Elvis Perkins: Ash Wednesday (XL/Rhythmethod)

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Elvis Perkins: All The Night Without Love
Elvis Perkins: Ash Wednesday (XL/Rhythmethod)

A publisher once told me that if I wanted to write a successful book I should put the word "Elvis" in the title.

I said my next book would be called "Elvis in the Title".

It's an odd fact though that the very word commands attention, whether it be the singer Elvis Phuong in Vietnam (who does MOR Beatles covers actually) or the various churches of Elvis.

Served Declan McManus (Mr Costello) pretty well too.

So Mr Perkins of LA -- his dad was the actor Anthony, his mum actress and photographer Berry Berenson -- gets a head start by his very choice of name.

He keeps your attention however because this musically loose-limbed, lowkey but luminously easy, and quiet grower of an album in places falls somewhere between a more folksy Astral Weeks and an alt.country-flavoured Waterboys.

Perkins' voice can be a fragile affair (so don't expect the tenor and melodic strength of Van the Man if that Astral Weeks reference got you sitting up) but it is more than adequate to get deep inside these literate lyrics and find nuances to make the melodies (some half suggested) quite memorable.

From the title track (about 9/11, and which recalls early Leonard Cohen with a country fiddle) to the almost hymnal and minimalist closer Good Friday, there are subtle layers of music and lyrics here to be explored and enjoyed over time.

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