Ian Carr and the Various Artists – I Like Your Taste In Music: Album Review

Ian Carr may, or may not be a familiar name to you.  He’s been around a long time, has appeared on over 40 albums and has worked with many high profile names, including Kathryn Tickell, Chris Wood and Andy Cutting, Kate Rusby, Eddi Reader and Kris Drever. 

Release Date: 28th February 2020

Label: Reveal Records

Formats: CD, DL

He’s also a guitarist of no mean ability, generally considered by those in the know to be one of the best and most original of his generation and, if the evidence on I Like Your Taste In Music is anything to go by, he’s also a highly talented composer and arranger to boot!

I Like Your Taste In Music is Ian’s second solo album, following his 2013 offering, Who He? released on the Swedish  Dalakollektivets imprint.  Indeed, although originally from Yorkshire, Ian is now based in the city of Falun, in the Dalarna Province of Sweden and I Like Your Taste In Music positively drips with Swedish folk influences – manna from heaven to a Swedophile (is there such a word?) such as myself. 

The album is actually a very thoughtful fusion of Swedish traditional styles with Celtic flavourings, particularly on Oh Yeh! and Feelings 1 & 2, the two longest tracks on the album, with the Swedish styling dominating most of the time.  Ian’s band is highly accomplished, a very necessary asset in view of the complexity of most of the tunes. 

Ian is joined by Laura Wilkie on violin, Maria Jonsson on viola, Staffan Lindfors on bass/omnichord and Thomas Gibbs on piano and harmonium.  The ensemble is further complemented by Irish/American flautist Steph Geremia, who contributes a wonderful whistle part to Feelings 1 & 2, multi-instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunggren who plays pedal steel on the album’s beautiful opener, The Flow Country and Simon Thoumire who adds concertina to the mix on Oh Yeh!  It all comes together marvellously and the album is a delight from start to finish.

The bulk of the album is instrumental and, in the several places where vocals are included they are, at least my mind, almost superfluous – the sole exceptions being On A Wet Day and Classic Car Week, both of which tell stories of sorts.  That’s not to decry the album in any way, but the real thrust is the superb musicianship and the quality of the tunes.

The album gets off to a fantastic start with the lovely The Flow Country, a tune written in the 1980s by Scottish composer Jim Sutherland.  Based on the peatland territory of Caithness in Scotland the tune is wonderfully evocative of that wild area and the violin/viola/pedal steel combination that delivers the melody is deliciously played. 

Other highlights of a consistently great selection are Göken, a beautiful traditional Swedish tune (a Polska, apparently), the aforementioned On A Wet Day, a tune and story based on a childhood journey that Ian took with his father which manages to evoke both the wild Lakeland country of Central Sweden and Forton Services on the M6 Motorway and Climber,  an ode to Ian’s daughter’s love of rock climbing.

Classic Car Week is a song that will be of interest to anyone who has visited Sweden’s rural towns and observed/marvelled at the predilection of the local youth for Rockabilly tunes and for cruising the local streets in huge vintage American cars.  This is no passing fad – I was first astounded by it during a visit to the town of Arvika in Sweden’s Värmland Province during the early 1980s and, judging by Ian’s experience, related in the song, it’s a pastime that still goes on – at least in Rättvik, Dalarna.

I love this album.  I love its Swedishness, its Celtic flavourings and its production quality.  But most of all, I love the tunes and the heartfelt manner in which they are presented.  Thank you Ian Carr and the band for this wonderful product.

Ian Carr and the Various Artistes are expected in the UK during the coming summer for a number of festival appearances and in the autumn for a string of concert dates.  Keep your eyes open and watch this space – this is a band not to be missed.

Watch Ian and the band performing live in Glasgow:

Ian Carr online: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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