Jim Shepherd – The Circle: Album Review

The Jasmine Minks man Jim Shepherd gets off his arse and gives us twelve golden nuggets.

Release Date: 25th March 2022

Label: Spinout Nuggets

Formats: CD / digital / vinyl

Having previewed and enjoyed Jim Shepherd’s Coming Alive single so much, we had to grab the album for a listen. We know enough about Jim with the heads up piece on The Circle, so with no further ado, we’re down and listening to Le Cercle – not a spelling error, but the opening track…and those moods and styles we were promised, come in bucketloads.

From the very off, I’ve got the jangle of The Byrds and the West Coast with Marianne Dissard’s whisper sitting in behind the main vocal before the contrast of the jerky thunder (sounds like Arash Torabi’s bass is working overtime), the brief nod to the ageless Bo Diddley rhythm and lushness of Time To Win.

I’ll stick to you like barnacles on a boat,” I guess is a new take on doing a love song on We’re Up High that has a bright brass arrangement which is always a winner. Uplifting strings and a retro vibe with hints at breezy soul at the heart. You can even add a bit of sonic Space Rock to the guitar fizz of Coming Alive which we revisit. The underlying pulse from the synth sequencer and repetitive riffing being straight from the annals of those iconic spacelords Hawkind themselves – or even The Doors as our Jim gets into a Morrison mood with promises of higher places and “something better.”

The mood of the latter continues into Caught In The Wind in a pulsating double hit centrepiece, and the Indie Rock tag gets ripped apart (it comes back with a vengeance on the pub rock There You Go) in a rush of excitement and uplift and a fraught guitar solo carried by the rush of the keyboard textures.

The contributions of an array of vocalists alongside Jim is highlighted by Beth Arzy’s tones on Opposites Attract and on the Ray Davies inspired storytelling on Maybe We’ll Talk where Dora Shepherd and Rosana Shepherd add a genuine subtlety to the flugelhorn fuelled melancholy on offer. One for wooing or for bringing a touch of romance into your life. Talking of which, Tough Old Birds would be perfect pickings for Mr Morrissey with the “kiss me once again like you used to, when you weren’t afraid to be yourself,” line – maybe a message for us all…

As JC Brouchard’s sleeve notes confirm, it’s the joy in coming together musically, remote or whatever, and the joy in the creation that stands out on The Circle. The Jasmine Minks legacy and legend is well served and in a win-win situation, we have our soundtrack for the 2022 Summer of revival.

Here’s Coming Alive (again):

Jim Shepherd online: Bandcamp / Twitter

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