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Jon Redfern - Acoustic
Brighton-born 22 year-old Jon Redfern is just what the recording industry needs - another 'sensitive new singer-songwriter' influenced by Nick Drake. Driven to deep depression and probable suicide by the lack of interest in his sublime music during his lifetime; if Drake is up there somewhere then he must be allowing himself a wry smile at the host of earnest young imitators speaking his name in reverential tones over 30 years after his death. None of these wannabe Nicks have come close to emulating the exquisitely melodic melancholy of the original, and Redfern is merely the latest in a long line of moderately talented pretenders to fall well short of greatness.
A former member of short-lived North-East folk prodigies, Tarras, Redfern has all the usual Drake-apeing ingredients - fragile, understated vocals, bleakly introspective lyrics, fingerpicked guitar lines and arrangements soaked in the sounds of both jazz and pastoral English composers. Following the release of his debut album May Be Some Time earlier in 2007, Acoustic presents sparer, more intimate reworkings of some of that record's better songs, together with new material.
It's all listenable enough. Redfern and his band mates Patrick Durkan and Joss Clapp can certainly play, and some of the textures they weave are intricate and hazily pleasant, making you feel like you're stretched out in a sun-drenched field after knocking back a few ciders on a summer's afternoon. But with the possible exception of the first and last tracks - "I Love The Sun", which has the only memorable tune here, and the anguished, Jeff Buckley-like "Troubadour" - Acoustic just meanders by inoffensively until you realise it's finished. If you don't own it already, go out and buy Drake's masterpiece Bryter Layter (followed by the rest of his back catalogue) and leave Redfern and his fellow clones on the shelf to experience the obscurity their idol unjustly endured during his time on earth. --Chris White
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