Thursday, September 17, 2009

Forest Sun - Harlequin Goodnight

What do Americana songwriters write and sing about these days?
Is it their political or religious proclivities? Or could it be the classic loves labours lost?
In the case of Forest Sun and his latest album Harlequin Goodnight it would seem it consists of several points of reference skilfully captured and turned into melodious verse as they drifted by. As if held upon the warm off shore breezes that roll down off the mountains and gently fan the waves along the coastline of California's many beach breaks. Or is it just the way these tunes make me feel?
My So Cal fantasies to one side for a moment. This is a fine collection of such captured thoughts.

Ok, as you may have gathered I’m hooked. This is a very well presented work. Forest Sun is a well-presented fellow. I would go as far as saying that he looks a tad clean cut. Not a country soul beard, plaid shirt or trucker hat in sight. Even his name Forest Sun, some may say is a bit on the side of twee. But placing all this stereotypical bull to one side. I’m glad I pursued this musical hunch and found this gem of an album.

Its opener Be Kind To You just flowed out of my speakers with a tingling grace and an almost horizontal vocal lilt.
This recurring theme continues throughout the entire album including the title track Harlequin Goodnight. We skip from the straight up Americana of High and Low, draped in slide and skillful picking. To Gurus and Rock Stars, which found me, dancing a waltz around our living room with my wife. A sight not seen since we first listened to Her Rocky Spine by Great Lake Swimmers. With lines such as “hell is just heaven still learning. So we might as well sing whilst we’re burning” showing there is a wicked yet whimsical side to Mr Sun’s lyrics.
I can even forgive him for the crucifixion of Bob Dylan’s, She Belongs To Me. Which just left me posing the question, why Forest, why?

Forest’s completes his successful mission with the down beat track, Your Horizon. This gently plucked guitar and vocal piece proudly sits at the end of album. A perfectly executed grand finale to this ‘you just don’t want it to end’ album. As I find my self once more reaching for the play button.

For more information on the work of Forest Sun or to buy a copy a Harlequin Goodnight and other albums from Forest Sun's back catalogue visit his web site at

Reviewer: DE Powell

Friday, September 11, 2009

Daylight and Stars - Jim Jones

After the brief but wonderfully titled opener The Underwater Orchestra, Winter Song gets us going steadily and softly builds, finishing with a nice outro, but it’s not until the subsequent Road to You that this album truly begins. It’s a very accomplished song with echoes of contemporary bands currently doing the rounds and without question the highlight of the album. “Am I a passenger or just a visitor?” enquires the songwriter. Emphasised even more so by this track you can’t help but feel that the listener is the passenger on Jones’ soulful journey throughout the album.

There is a very personal theme running through his work, but Jim is no tortured soul. No tales of heartbreak or desperation here, thank you very much. Far from it. Tracks like Find Me Out and Evelyn are testament to this with the latter conjuring images of summer love, maybe lost, maybe not, but upbeat nevertheless.

The mid-section of the album continues in a similar vein with One Step Away and Treading Water which are supported nicely by Severn, a folk-infused one-minute instrumental which could possibly do with being longer.

A Cornish Western is pure indulgence on Jones’ part and probably an unnecessary filler but given the quality of the material surrounding it, we’ll forgive him this time. After this experimental interlude the album finishes strongly and beautifully with Daylight Breaks and another stand out number Illuminate, and as the title may suggest with slightly spiritual overtones.

Jim is obviously a guy with a positive outlook on life and it’s well reflected in his lyrics and musical style. The inclusion of a number different instruments makes the album feel more polished and never feels overdone, always keeping the formula simple, and is admirable considering that it could be tempting to over indulge.

In an industry saturated with successful solo artists with arguably little more than style over substance there’s easily enough here to stand up against and even surpass them.

For more information on the music of Jim Jones and to buy Daylight and Stars visit his web site at

Reviewer: Country Bear Jamboree

Sunday, September 6, 2009

and now for an intermission............

Twister Valley Records office top 10 play list.........

1. Joe Volt - Derwent Water Gaint (Bootleg) sorry Joe, send us a copy please!

2. Pete Coe - In Paper Houses (Backshift Music)

3. Sonic Youth - The Eternal (Matador)

4. Forest Sun - Harlequin Goodnight (Painted Sun)

4. Dinosaur Jr. - Farm (Pias)

6. Bon Iver - For Emma, forever ago (4AD)

7. Great Lake Swimmers - Ongiara (Nettwerk)

8. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Jacksonville City Nights (Lost Highway)

9. Neil Young - Mirrorball (Reprise Records)

10. Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegen - Sunday at Devil Dirt (V2 Records)

Snaps - An article by Forest Sun

You know what I like about cowboy shirts? Snaps. Snaps are far superior to buttons. Elegant. Attractive. Practical. And most importantly-easily accessible. When I was a kid I wore shirts with snaps. (I had a pair of red cowboy boots, too.) With snaps you can pull your shirt open like your superman getting ready to fly or the incredible hulk, muscles bursting out of your shirt. Or even better have someone else pull your shirt open and off. And toss it recklessly on the floor while they kiss your newly exposed clavicles and fondle your love handles. Buttons don’t have that going for them. You rip a buttoned shirt off a body you can’t put it on again in the morning. Snaps you can. Plus the word snap has an inherently musical quality to it. It’s a verb. A rhythmic action. A percussive event each time you put on that shirt. That satisfying pulsation betwixt thumb and forefinger that buttons just can’t provide. Snaps are about speed. They’re streamlined. Aerodynamic. They may lack the propriety and ubiquitous homogeny of the more widely accepted buttons, but they more then make up for it in personality, relaxed attitude and sexy, pearlescent shine. And for that I am grateful. Forest Sun

Twister Valley Records will be reviewing Forest Sun's new album Harlequin Goodnight soon. Keep posted.