BEST OF 2013: 30. The R.G. Morrison – Diamond Valley

It was a dreary day in late September when the email appeared. It’s not unheard of to receive communication from Rupert Morrison, who runs Totnes’ musical haven The Drift Record Shop, as he’s written about the establishment here before and I’m a big fan of his publication ‘Deluxe’. However, this was a quick note about a forthcoming release by his band. The weird and wonderful dance through my inbox on a daily basis, often accompanied by generic hyperbole designed to have the opposite effect to that which it inevitably does. Those rare moments of discovery are always a heady thrill, mind you, however sparsely occuring they might be. But when it’s from someone you know, who you’ve met and talked great music with and purchased great music from, you really hope that what’s loading in front of you is going to be decent.

30 RG DV

Thankfully, as you’ve probably already realised by this album’s presence in a list of the ‘Best of 2013′, all was well. ‘Diamond Valley’ captures the sound of a band whose rich sonic palette cannot help but have been influenced by the day job. The opening title track is a prime slab of alt-country which slowly intensifies towards the sort of fuzzy chug that Magnolia Electric Co did so very, very well. The fragile aches of Molina are present at various points on the album, along with a reasonable nod to prime-period Ryan Adams. It is Morrison’s beautifully expressive voice that is the real delight here. I remain as enchanted by it several months on as I was on that very first listen. It creaks, breaks, purrs and explodes across the course of the record, avoiding falling into the identikit Americana accent.

Love Saved The Nineties’ shimmies into view around the half way point, with wistfully gentle backing vocals and stirringly melancholic guitar licks, raising the bar and dimming the lights. It’s like being given the best hug in the world by somebody who themselves is just as in need of one. Early single ‘Slumber’ will win over plenty of Neil Young fans en route to its squally, shouty, rasping finale. It is a fine representation of an album for people who give things a little time. Let it breathe, let it play and, most importantly, let it in and you’ll be utterly charmed. Lovely artwork too.

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