Secret Meeting score: 77
by Philip Moss
UK born, Canadian raised troubadour, John Southworth, has been releasing records in his adopted homeland for over two decades. But it wasn’t until 2014’s double LP, Niagra, that his music gained recognition on this side of the Atlantic.
Like Niagra, this, his twelfth album, is a wonderfully crafted piece of work. Over a warbling pump organ – lifted straight from Truffaut’s Jules et Jim – Southworth’s gravelly timbre opens the LP on the maudlin Adopt A Highway – setting the tone for much of what is to follow.
Over fluttering pianos, The Luddite feels like Dylan’s Tempest – Southworth’s gruff voice simmers before gliding into a gently soaring choral refrain. Title track, Miracle in the Night, stirs as Southworth wanders through yet more eerie storytelling – and, while it’s musically less dense, his voice has a quality found on Scott Walker’s final trilogy. Red Velvet Curtains sees long time backing band, The South Seas, come to the fore as they sojourn into a moment of measured jazz. While I Love My Girl’s looping piano and lazy drums, which back Southworth’s hauntingly memorable melody, recalls Cherry Ghost – and as is the case throughout, that feeling of melancholia is never more than a syllable away.
Miracle in the Night is a fine collection from a fine songwriter – and one that, given time, will definitely reward repeated listens.