WHISPERIN' AND HOLLERIN' (UK)

But for a chance encounter with a drunk on a Brighton bus, Swedish born Fred Kinbom might still be churning our dour folk tunes about isolation and soul-destroying work.
Actually, those are still the principal subjects of his songs, but they have been given a new, and less gloomy, lease of life by virtue of the fact that he has switched from playing straight acoustic to lap steel guitar.
This change was recommended by the elderly drunk although it doesn't mean Kinbom has coverted to the Delta Blues or Hawaiian hula dance numbers.
Earnest folk still lies at the core although he says that his musical inspirations are eclectic and come mainly from non guitar music. The influence of Eastern European gypsy tunes alongside music from his Scandanavian roots is particularly evident from the six tracks on this EP.
Quit My Job is billed as a solo EP but it is the ensemble playing that makes this it work. Kinbom proudly declares that he plays a Lazy River spruce/walnut Weissenborn-style guitar and his fellow players are Bjorn Dahlberg (clarinet), Sam Walker (drums), Jim Mortimore (bass), Matthew Guest (accordion) plus Hannah Miller (cello), Georgina Leach (violin) and Olle Austin (darbouka goblet drum) from The Moulettes, a "pirate-folk" band from Manchester.
The bonus track is easily the highlight. DJ Steve Baker (aka Champion Fever) has remixed and extended the jaunty two-minute opening instrumental Back Pocket Horn into something both delirious and joyful (thanks to some great clarinet playing from Bjorn Dahlberg).
Dahlberg also helps transform Quit My Job from a tale of woe ("breathing stale office air") to something more hopeful.
On My Retreat the slide plus drum beat has a more punchy feel to suit the slightly spiteful lyrics "if you don't know what you want, I cannot give you anything" while Unrest ("I don't feel like sleeping") builds from a sleepy jazzy bass intro into a jaunty jervish-style gypsy romp thanks to some fine fiddle playing.
You Dreamt I Was The Strongest Man In The World Waltz features wordless vocals for a lovelorn, low-key dance track.
The album cover is a black and white shot Kinbom, Guest and Dahlberg jamming in a small room and the strength of this record is that it captures this degree of intimacy while sounding like music created first and foremost for their personal amusement.
Thanks are due to them and the rest of the band for sharing the result. 8/10