• jim guthrie Now, More Than Ever (180g vinyl LP, £15.75)

    label: 3 Syllables

    VINYL VERSION FEATURES 2 UNRELEASED TRACKS. Try to imagine the perfect album. A lush, gorgeous record that is small and still. Full of unassuming first-person monologues. Acoustic without being folksy, poppy without being pandering, and quirky without being annoying. JIM GUTHRIE has created a masterful soundtrack of peace and tranquility, a crowning achievement of an earthly troubadour. ROYAL CITY founding member JIM GUTHRIE dragged his acoustic guitar out into the open, opting to indulge heavily in some bold studio bluster and multi-instrumental antics for the fulsome Now, More Than Ever. The album's approach is docile, but its impact is immediate: this is a record packed with gorgeous, intricate pop songs, carried by Guthrie's plaintive whispers and delicate strums. It is almost glossed to perfection (excluding the handful of broken plates, squeaky floor tiles, and toys exploding in the background), but nonetheless provides a substantial pedestal for Guthrie's stronger-by-the-second songwriting. Now, More Than Ever is an album that has all the elements necessary to be a pop classic. It is one of those albums that people thank you for turning them on to. Guthrie also works with Canadian indie rock mega stars ISLANDS front man Nick Thornburn in the breathtaking side project HUMAN HIGHWAY. With a battalion of able players backing him up, the impeccable strings lovingly arranged by a pre-Funeral OWEN PALLETT of ARCADE FIRE (aka FINAL FANTASY), the shimmering banjo shakes on Problem With Solutions, carefully played by THE CONSTANTINES' Bry Webb. Guthrie's songs occasionally evoke the versatile billowing of SUFJAN STEVENS, or the BYRDS-ish croon of THE CLIENTELE. All Gone shudders open with a chorus of yawning, suspense-heavy strings, each nervous yelp bending back in favour of a soft melody and Guthrie's obtuse poetics. What JIM GUTHRIE has achieved is, obviously, one of those albums that has managed to persevere in critical circles for almost five years running and is only recently receiving the acclaim that: a) it deserves; and b) us protectionist indie types like to use as "I told you so" ammunition in overlong, themed adverts posing as reviews that wax about a record for four paragraphs without once detailing the music that lies therein. "Jim Guthrie has left an indelible mark on the Canadian music scene, from his early days as a home-rock DJ in Guelph, to his searing lead guitar in Royal City, Islands and Human Highway. But his solo career is outstanding; every musician I know is indebted to him, especially me. Working on Now, More Than Ever with Jim, the band and Andy Magoffin, none of us really understood the scope of it until it was released to great acclaim in Canada and beyond. Jim's songs are as cryptic as a crossword and as personal as a foot massage. This record changed our lives, may it now change yours" - OWEN PALLETT.

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