Gwenifer Raymond “You Were Never Much of a Dancer”(Tompkins Square 2018)

Firmly out of left field, this is a debut album stuffed full of hugely impressive Americana from the spectacularly talented multi-instrumentalist Gwenifer Raymond. She’s a Welsh native, has a Ph.D. and she looks ridiculously youthful. Sickening, isn’t it? The record is teeming with Delta Blues and Appalachian folky weirdness; Sergio Leone or Tarantino would dream of licensing all of these rolling, pumping American Primitive tracks for any movie soundtrack.
Raymond scratches eerily on the violin in the short opener ‘Off To See The Hangman’ then bursts into thumping acoustic thumb and fingerpicking on ‘Sometimes There’s Blood,’ which starts off as a western theme and along the way drifts into a hypnotic almost Indian raga. These tracks paint the most vivid of pictures; any fan of the wider Americana genre would find them enthralling. ‘Idumea’ is a more ominous than jolly banjo/mandolin rag (of course, both played by Raymond herself). ‘Face Down Strut’ is short, sharp bluegrass played at lightspeed, with again more of an ominous than cheery undertone. The old ‘Deliverance’ banjo jumps back into picture and charges through ‘Oh Command Me Lord!’ ‘Sweep It Up’ is a slow, rolling slide guitar blues, as ‘Bleeding Finger Blues’ jumps up and hurtles by, with the banjo barely surviving Raymond’s furious elegance.

It’s almost impossible not to be swept along by Gwenifer Raymond’s fire and skill, making some of the oldest of roots music both immediate and evocative of their heritage.

9/10

Summary

Almost, almost perfection. American Primitve instrumental music rarely sounded this good

Author: Mark Nenadic

Quite likes music. Doesn't really like people. From The North. Exiled in The Midlands due to radical views on whippets/flat caps. Beards and plaid shirts belong on Willie Nelson. Everybody else should smarten up a bit ..

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