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Keeley Forsyth

THE LEAF LABEL

DEBRIS

The word about Oldham-based actor/musician Keeley Forsyth is spreading. Already a busy TV and film actor (readers may recognise her from appearances in Coronation Street, Luther and even Guardians Of The Galaxy) she also writes and sings music. But there, the comparisons with Tracey Ullman or Alexander Armstrong end. As an actor, she’s blessed with a face that can portray torment, suffering and anxiety – a heroin-addicted single mum in The Casual Vacancy; a mother with a spiritually confused son in The Devil Outside. It’s a face for our times and, whether by accident or design, it so happens that it matches exactly the disquieting music she makes with her otherworldly, haunted voice: think Karen Dalton, Nico or Anohni. Title track Debris was released late last year with a video directed by Maxine Peake, a pairing which immediately fits. The stark musical settings are made up of acoustic guitar, slowly-bowed cello and viola, occasional electronica and room ambience straight from Talk Talk. They’re a perfect setting for Forsyth’s voice and her collaboration with Leaf labelmate Matthew Bourne is a real revelation. She describes the songs as “blocks of metal that drop from the sky”, not something you can imagine, say, Harry Styles saying and the venture could have slipped into pompous navel gazing. That it absolutely does not is down in part to the tasteful production by Sam Hobbs, who saves the whole venture from slipping into bathos. Final track Start Again introduces electronica and possibly signals where this strange and unsettling project could go next. Ben Wardle

Courteeners

MORE. AGAIN. FOREVER.

IGNITION

Having scrapped an album’s worth of songs, one of the last indie stadium bands standing plainly made the right decision. Album six sees them relaxed and starting to muck about again, back to the spirit of newcomers across 10 tight, taut tunes. The title track is like Simon Armitage covering Blondie’s Rapture. Heart Attack is a perfect pop song about writing the perfect pop song. Even the requisite stadium ballads Is Heaven Even Worth It? and One Day At A Time have a lightness of touch hardly ever found in songs this size. Courteeners always had more going on in their tunes and Liam Fray’s empathetic lyrics than the unforunate “Dark Fruits lads” cliché unfairly attached to them implies. Anyone still throwing that at Courteeners after More. Again. Forever. is a certified chump. Each of its 10 songs is a potential single – what more do you need? John Earls

Bill Fay

DEAD OCEANS

COUNTLESS BRANCHES

The late reblossoming of Bill Fay is a truly marvellous thing. Here is a songwriter whose 1970s albums for the Deram label were deleted for 25 years before being reissued, and then discovered by the likes of Jim O’Rourke and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Cue the second act of Fay’s career, which began with the release of Life Is People in 2012. It revealed a man not trading on the past, but crafting songs that dealt with spirituality, nature and the need for connection. Countless Branches covers the same subjects, but within more stripped-back musical settings – piano, acoustic guitar and Fay’s own vocals are to the fore – than the sometimes lush textures of its 2015 predecessor, Who Is The Sender? A collection that marvels at the wonder of it all and invites you to do the same – which you should. Jonathan Wright

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About Long Live Vinyl

ISSUE 35 of Long Live Vinyl is now on sale! In our first issue of 2020 we bring you the inside story of Bob Dylan's most diverse, divisive and fascinating decade – the 1970s. Dylan made eight hugely different studio albums in those 10 years, and we've rounded up some of his closest confidants and bandmates to tell the tale. It's a must-read for any fan of Mr Zimmerman. Elsewhere in issue 35, our packed interviews section features Angel Olsen, Seth Lakeman, The Go-Betweens, Field Music, DJ Shadow and Courteeners, plus we take an in-depth look at The Doors' Morrison Hotel and meet the music fanatics behind America's coolest label group – Secretly Canadian. If that's not enough, we bring you 40 essential folk-rock classics, a guide to building your perfect hi-fi setup in 2020 and the usual eclectic mix of vinyl columnists, news and reviews. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers.