Sunday, April 29, 2012

Richard James (ex-Gorky's Zygotic Mynci) Brings Us A New Album: A Review

Richard James formed Welsh legends Gorky's Zygotic Mynci quite a few years ago and now he's back with his second solo release, Pictures in the Morning, out 23 April on the Gwymon label from Wales.

Equal parts Bert Jansch and Syd Barrett, the record blends the disparate elements of the worlds of UK folk rock and indie music to create a haunting and contemplative album. Less the whimsy of Gorky's and more the soul-searching of John Martyn, this is a solid album.

"All Alone" -- some weird mix of Graham Coxon and Nick Drake -- is plucked sadness, a lullaby or a lament? The song eases a listener into the record.

"Baby Blue" charms like the work of a sort of upbeat Roger Waters. Another rustic guitar figure here, it's reminiscent of "Patio Song" or other classic tracks from Gorky's. Decidedly mellow, this is folk rock with a sort of happiness and weariness running parallel through the tune.

The 10-minute "Sun Ease Pain" is a gentle epic, a sort of proggy spin on the Gorky's formula -- equal parts Greg Lake and Gruff Rhys here. The song builds, crashes, then builds again.

"Say It Ain't No Lie" is "Blackbird" filtered through "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" -- the sinister undercurrent is hard to miss.

"Do You Know The Way To My Heart" recalls a slower, more languid stroll through an old Gorky's tune. There's a hint of The Lilac Time here -- at least that first album's style -- and it's the sort of English (Welsh?) folk that recalls multiple decades.

"Down to My Heart" is a nod to Robert Wyatt, and "Magical Day" is Syd Barrett by way of early solo McCartney -- still languid, still folk, still very, very English (Welsh?).

"Rolling Down" is more classic Nick Drake-inspired folk rock while "Yes My Love Died" is a nearly jaunty trip down a simple, sad stylistic road.

Pictures in the Morning isn't earthshaking in its styles but it's charming and gentle and a welcome release. If you ever felt like Euros Childs and his quirks -- mainly vocal and lyrical ones -- dominated Gorky's, you may like this record more. Richard James is a more reserved performer and the soft folk charms of this record will warm hearts for months, and years, to come.

Play "Baby Blue" and a few other non-LP tracks below.

Read more about Pictures in the Morning on the Gwymon label here: