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Aaron Booth | Transparent (Boonbox)
That it arrived in my clutches devoid of sleeve, credits or press release, I'm struggling to find an original way to say that this album puts me in a similarly reverent position as the Ron Sexsmith debut. Mysterious lyrics... check. Floppy drumming... check. Wobbly but charming singing... check. Crafty arrangement narratives which veer from the stark to the complex... check. The brilliant opener When She Appeared is a terrific song, a tight piece of writing like Rosie Thomas' Two Dollar Shoes or Simon Neild's We're Mostly Water. Opening with a simple guitar figure and brushed drums, the vocals start and you swoon. Sleep in Cinescope displays an upbeat pop sensibility, while Quiet a Little More brings the bass in at just the right moment. The title track has some unexpected deep brass. What was the record written on? Guitar? If so its very well disguised, as of course it should be. The piano-led (and we're talking your mum's old piano not been tuned for years, nothing too smooth) Somewhere in Between rather spoils the unity of that idea, but at least the album progresses, taking the listener on a bit of a tour... and just when you think the closer is going to fizzle out in moody introspection, the band returns with one of those full arrangement moments. If 'Transparent' is a debut then its really strong, Ethan Johns should hear it immediately. Now someone's going to spoil it and tell me Aaron Booth is in fact M Ward's cousin and the album was produced by Johns. Until then I'll remain blissfully ignorant, just enjoying the thing for what it is.

Richard Bell
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003

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