Rob St. John -‘Weald’ (Song, By Toad)
Having been very impressed by his two earlier EPs, it is a pleasure to have the debut album by Rob St. John. I would have been looking forward to hearing it in any case, though the fact that it is released on the painfully cool Song, By Toad label, features contributions from the likes of Neil Pennycook of Meursault and Malcolm Benzie of eagleowl (amongst others), and I have met him, briefly, all put several additional cherries on the top.
According to the press release, a ‘weald’ is an Old English word from which the concept of a ‘wild’, a ‘wooded’, and a ‘dark, dangerous’ place in the landscape has emerged. This sums up the mood of the record beautifully, though to describe it as an Olde Worlde Folkie record would be off the mark spectacularly. I do hear nods to the likes of Bert Jansch, but also to the likes of Australia’s Dirty Three, and of course, it almost certainly will appeal to those who like the aforementioned eagleowl and Meursault.
Thus far, ‘Sargasso Sea’ has been doing the rounds as a free mp3 and album opener ‘Your Phantom Limb’ (no, nothing to do with The Shins) was released as one side of a split 7″ earlier this year. These two tracks certainly lure you in, although for my money the album highlight is the devastingly beautiful ‘Domino’, the most amazing track on an album full of devastatingly beautiful (or should that be beautifully devastating) songs.
Each time I have played this album, it has showed more and more of its vcharms. Trust me, it will do the same for you.
Weald is out now on Song, By Toad.