New Place Now

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Plainsong come across on New Place Now as a quartet of middle-aged buddies having a blast putting a few tunes together. There is no deep concept to the album, no grand ambition or unifying idea. Just a few talented blokes having a grand old time. The general tone is mellow, upbeat, and wistful. Stylistically, the record is as diverse as the personalities of the band members. Iain Matthews brings his pop star craftsmanship. With a little more polish, Matthews' originals like "Stranded" and "What's Wrong With This Picture" would fit right in on either of the singer/songwriter's solo records, Excerpts From Swan Lake and A Tiniest Wham. Clive Gregson plays the role of the traditional folkie, lending a mellow resonant bass to mild folk fare like "Following Amelia" and "Follow My Tears." Andy Roberts, a gruff-accented baritone, wanders into folk's more bucolic regions on the country-inflected "Ricochet" and the lightly Celtic "Penny Black." The fourth Plainsonger, Mark Griffiths, generally lurks in the background behind his bass guitar. Together they have wrought a slightly rugged but ultimately winning album, an album whose most valuable asset is the infectious pleasure its creators obviously took in creating it.

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