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John Almond | Under Your Door (2Jay)
Some discs grab you from the off, and some slowly grow, as I'm sure you've found out for yourself. This one pretty much sneaks up on you when you're not paying attention ?? like it's been slipped under your door, y'see? Its opener, The Circus Leaves Town, shuffles pleasantly enough, but doesn't exactly grab you by the collar and breathe mint in your face. Track two is a short sweet atmosphere-and-church-bells instrumental called New Church Morning, which you might have expected would be the track one intro. It blends nicely into Tears or Laughter (just like an intro should) a solid-gold standout, with sterling harmony vocals from Sarah McGuire and some very fine guitar. By the time track six, All That Noise, starts to swing and lope with its tasteful piano you're pretty well hooked. The string synth sounds are a bit weedy, to be sure ?? get this man an orchestra! - but the guitar playing is spot-on tasteful, and the odd piano adds flavour, especially to the lovely instrumental coda to Grace and Favour, which features some, possibly synthetic but, very smart brass. The Almond voice is like a more fragile John Martyn, with some echoes of him out of Mojave 3. The music was mostly recorded at home and is released on a small St. Alban's-based cottage-industry label set up by John and another bloke called John and dedicated to putting out self-produced stuff like this by the pair of them. All power to them if they're all as low-key subtle and solid as this one. The website will tell you the record stalls in St Albans where you can buy their discs, as well as recommending a fair few local pubs. It also reveals John A's influences, which include Joni M. and Scott W. and the two finest pieces of music with Wichita in the title. Top! (also available at

Jeff Cotton
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002