Kevin Bryan’s CD lowdown

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A LOOK at some of the latest CDs to hit the shelves with Kevin Bryan

Jon Anderson, “Deseo” (Talking Elephant TECD 216)- This rhythmically rich 1994 offering found Yes vocalist and one-time Accrington milkman Anderson operating in unfamiliar territory as he immersed himself in the delights of Latin music, aided and abetted by luminaries such as Brazilian singer-songwriter Milton Nascimento. The venture wasn’t an unqualified success but it certainly represented an excellent showcase for Anderson’s versatility as a performer, although style did tend to outweigh substance on some of the less appealing tracks.

Judy Collins,”Fires of Eden” (Talking Elephant TECD214) -This venerable vocalist first attracted the attention of discerning punters when she recorded a string of exquisitely crafted albums for the Elektra label during the 60s, making a gradual progression from folk music to art song and promoting the work of aspiring young songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Robin Williamson in the process. A great deal of water had gurgled under the proverbial bridge by the time that “Fires of Eden” first saw the light of day in 1990 but in many ways it represented a throwback to those classic early offerings, with “Home Before Dark” and the epic “The Blizzard” emerging as the cream of the crop.

Chicken Shack,”40 Blue Fingers” (Talking Elephant TECD 217)- Chicken Shack’s debut set,”40 Blue Fingers,” was first released by Mike Vernon’s Blue Horizon Records in 1968, capitalising on the current popularity of the British blues boom by soaring into the higher reaches of the album charts. Stan Webb’s stinging guitar work dominates a classic blues package which also features a splendid horn section and the voice and keyboards of Christine Perfect, who would later go on to find fame and fortune with Fleetwood Mac after her marriage to bass player John McVie.

Martin Jones, “Oscar Espla : Music for Piano” (Nimbus NI 5889/90)- Classical pianist Martin Jones’ richly rewarding new Nimbus recital explores the keyboard repertoire of quixotic Spanish composer Oscar Espla. Espla was by all accounts an outstanding pianist in his own right, and this gifted writer and performer used the instrument as a vehicle to express profound emotions throughout his life,often summoning up images from his childhood or creating sublime musical evocations of the landscape around his birthplace in Alicante.

Caitlin Rose,”The Stand-In” (Names Records NAMES48CD)- The eagerly awaited follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2010 debut set,”Own Side Now,” finds Nashville’s Caitlin Rose in even more expansive and accessible form as she delivers an album whose appeal lies somewhere between orthodox country balladry and radio friendly pop-rock . Caitlin employs the talents of her handpicked coterie of top notch backing musicians to underpin deliciously memorable ditties such as “Golden Boy,” “Silver Sings” and “Only A Clown,” striking a near perfect balance between touching emotional vulnerability and instant commercial appeal in the process.