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Reviews Written by
M. G. Wilson (Eastbourne)

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Price: £22.21

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight, 3 Mar. 2008
This review is from: Redbird (Audio CD)
Four friends playing to each other, and with each other. Three distinctive voices, singing lead by turn, solo, with subtle harmony, and on occasion all three twisting and turning around each other. A bunch of songs they all love: some covers - Dylan, Waits, Willie Nelson, REM - and one song apiece by the protagonists. A lullaby, a drinking song, a drunken lullaby. Guitars picked and strummed, a touch of slide, an occasional fiddle. Sat in a circle in a friend's living room, one stereo mic, recorded live to DAT. Greg Brown's 'Ships' kicks off proceedings with a sound reminiscent of Lyle Lovett's 'If I had a boat'. 'Moonglow' follows and could have been recorded anytime in the past 80 years. But it's hard to pick stand out tracks from such an organic recording, which is a delight from start to finish.

Anyone who has already picked up on Jeffrey Foucault will enjoy this, as will all fans of acoustic roots music. Highly recommended.

The New Atheists: The Twilight of Reason and the War on Religion
The New Atheists: The Twilight of Reason and the War on Religion
by Tina Beattie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.95

18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating, 1 Mar. 2008
This book is a valuable new contribution to the current debate on society, science and religion. Although written by an academic, this book is very readable and will be accessible to anyone interested in the issues. Beattie is not concerned to show who has the `right' answers, but rather to illuminate the nature of the debate. Starting with the historical roots of the feud, especially the nineteenth century, when the modern idea of science emerged, she shows that the entrenched positions of today are nothing new. As a feminist she draws out the very aggressively mannish way in which the debate is being conducted. She also shows how much religious and atheist fundamentalists have in common in their failure to really listen, or to consider any evidence that conflicts with `how things must be'. She points out that "the new atheism ... has the same myth-making function as religious stories in seeking to offer an over-arching vision of the meaning and purpose of life". Beattie shows that a more thoughtful and considered debate is possible, and that away from the headlines just such a conversation is proceeding. It is hard however to be hopeful that the most high profile protagonists with their avowed intention to completely eradicate religion, and the modern media with its addiction to sound bites and controversy, will be part of that any time soon. And yet, just a few weeks ago (early 2008) I watched Martin Amis on national television defending the Archbishop of Canterbury. So perhaps miracles can still happen.

Women with Men
Women with Men
by Richard Ford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Short measure, 27 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Women with Men (Paperback)
Of the three novellas presented here, 'Occidentals' is the most successful. The story of a man to whom life just happens, who drifts and dreams, and whose inner fantasy world seems more real to him than any external reality. The story is set in Paris, as is part of the central character's own novel, and is left wondering if, as with that fictional work, Ford's own Paris is the product of the library rather than personal experience. However, with 'The Womaniser' also set partly in Paris, perhaps it reflects a recent holiday. And yet both this story and 'Jealous' have the feel of writing exercises rather than fully realised creations. There is nothing here as strong or as involving as 'Independence Day' or 'The Sportswriter', and those new to Ford would be better advised to start with these great novels.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2011 9:02 PM GMT

Everybody Knows EP
Everybody Knows EP

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ryan for the radio, 20 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Everybody Knows EP (Audio CD)
Ryan Adams is a prolific but frequently frustrating artist. These facts are not unrelated. Hardcore fans are prepared to accept the wayward quality control and sort the wheat from the chaff - not least because there is seldom agreement about which is which. `Everybody Knows', the EP that thinks it's an album, however, is a consistently good set of songs, presenting a smoother, fm style that, while not scaling the heights of the best of Heartbreaker or Gold, is easy to like, and could consolidate the success of Easy Tiger and win the man new fans. With the title track taken from Easy Tiger, two new songs and five songs recorded `live in the studio', this is a useful survey of recent work. Well worth the price of entry.

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine deck shoe, 18 Feb. 2008
Comfortable and long-lasting, while not quite attaining the perfection of the Traditional 30003, these are nonetheless a fine deck shoe, with many of the same qualities, and offering a lighter, and perhaps slightly smarter shoe.

Timberland Mens 30003 Trad Hs 3 Eye Lug
Timberland Mens 30003 Trad Hs 3 Eye Lug

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best, 18 Feb. 2008
I bought a pair of these when they first became available in the UK - perhaps 25 years ago. I'm not sure how many pairs I've had now, but I would never want to be without some. They last for years. They're comfortable from the very first wear. They're classic in the sense that they never date or 'go out of fashion'. Do your feet a favour...

Jacksonville City Nights
Jacksonville City Nights
Price: £8.47

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not convinced, 15 Feb. 2008
With a train song, a drinking song, several shooting songs, a whole heap of girl, you done me wrong songs, several deaths, and a body count to rival any western. Jacksonville City Nights, the latest from Ryan Adams is straight ahead country, albeit the country of Gram Parsons, heavy on the pedal steel and crying in your beer. This much is clear from the opening bars of opening track A kiss before I go, which sets out the stall for this album, but which like many other songs here, seems like genre writing, disproving Kristofferson's famous assertion `If it sounds like country, that's what it is...'

The press surrounding the latest Paul McCartney release suggested that producer Nigel Godrich pushed McCartney hard, perhaps harder than anyone since Beatles days, rejecting sub-standard material, demanding lyrical rewrites, looking for a better tune. Nigel, your next client is waiting.

Jacksonville has few songs where music and lyric cohere into something more than the sum of their parts. When it does, Adams and his band The Cardinals summon something to rival his best work, September, the dark doomy, Don't fail me now suggesting Nick Cave, but elsewhere too many songs fall short of this artist's own high standard. Hard way to fall's lyric of regret and sadness undercut by an indifferent musical setting. Dear John sung with Norah Jones is neither a duet nor harmony singing - compare this to the peerless harmony singing of Emmylou Harris on debut album's Sweet Carolina, or even this album's Withering Heights. Were Ryan and Norah even in the studio at the same time? I suspect not. `Bonus track' Always on my mind fails to address the questions that arise when covering a standard - do we need another version, and can I add anything to what has already been said. The answers here are no and no. Elvis sleeps easy.

Despite the ubiquity of death, no consistent mood is established, yet neither is the pall punctured by songs to lighten the mood or set toes tapping, heads nodding. Slap in the middle of this lyrically dark album Peaceful Valley provides a hint of light mixed with the darkness, some sweetness to cut the bitterness of loss and regret, some hope to balance the hopelessness, but with Adams wobbling tunelessly in an uncertain high register falls short of delivering the emotional counterpoint at the heart of this work. Despite all this, the album closes strongly, Pa, Withering Heights and Don't fail me now showing just what Adams is capable of.

Compare this album to the singer's own Heartbreaker, Springsteen's Nevada, Nick Cave's Abattoir Blues and the problems become clear. Jacksonville... doesn't draw you in. These are story songs that fail to convince the listener that they are a real. Not necessarily a factual story. Not necessarily something that really happened to the singer but a real story.

Life is hard for the casual Ryan watcher. We wait and hope for another album to match Heartbreaker or Gold. This is not that album. Once over that disappointment, what remains is not a bad album, but it in the end, when judged against the highest standards, JCN convinces neither as country nor as Ryan.

The Reminder
The Reminder
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1234 stars, 14 Feb. 2008
This review is from: The Reminder (Audio CD)
Canada's Fiest has turned in a light airy confection, hip enough to chart but with enough going on to keep the grown ups interested. Melodic, poppy, reflective and musically accomplished. A singer songwriter yes, but of superior quality. 1234 and Sealion are the standout tracks, but if you like these, there's plenty more here to enjoy.

Little Amber Bottles
Little Amber Bottles
Price: £15.59

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doomed gothic, 14 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Little Amber Bottles (Audio CD)
Blanche come on like urban Eraserhead escapees playing old timey mountain music for a revival mission. Heavy on the banjo, and with a dark doomy gothic atmosphere. Hints of Kristofferson and Cash singing sixties duets with Dory Previn. There's much here to admire, but less to inspire or love.

On Chesil Beach
On Chesil Beach
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tragic, doomed, 13 Feb. 2008
This review is from: On Chesil Beach (Paperback)
McEwan handles this tragic, doomed love affair beautifully: the awkwardness; the rapture; the misunderstanding; the fumbling; the devotion. Yet the final coda, telescoping 'the rest of their life' into seven pages, seems almost to be notes for a longer work that the author decided not to complete.

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