Sound of Yell – Broken Spectre
El Hombre Trajeado co-founder goes solo with the help of a dozen friends
His sometime El Hombre Trajeado accomplice and co-founder RM Hubbert might have attracted more recognition in recent times for his exhausting workrate and proliferation of fine albums, but Stevie Jones’ own career has continued apace in the meantime, both under his own Rude Pravo title (alongside artists Luke Fowler and Cara Tolmie) and as a collaborator with the likes of Bill Wells, Aidan Moffat and Jer Reid. Now, with this solo-steered but still collaborative album under the alias Sound of Yell, he will hopefully earn more recognition for his own individual talents.
Jones’ central roles on the album are as composer and player of some intelligent, expressive acoustic guitar parts, although, unlike Hubbert, his songs aren’t founded around a single instrument with occasional interventions from others. Instead, Jones has invited around a dozen musicians to contribute throughout the record, lending a rich and expansive sound which betrays both its creator’s beginnings on the Glasgow indie scene and a rich kind of alternative folk vibe.
Belle & Sebastian’s Stevie Jackson plays harmonica and Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake contributes wordless vocals, but this record is more in keeping with the usual styles of Alex Neilson of Trembling Bells (drums and percussion) and Alasdair Roberts (hurdy gurdy). As such, there’s a keening, folksy air to ‘Scuffling’, a laid-back country feeling amid ‘Hitherto’, on which Jackson’s harmonica wails out, and an eerie urgency about ‘Sated Eyrie’, with Abi Vuillamy’s musical saw ringing throughout the song.
To draw the comparison back to his former collaborator Hubbert’s work one final time, Jones shares a compelling emotional variety to his music, even as it gets by with minimal lyrical interference (Kim Moore’s breathy, jazz-style contribution to ‘Caiman’ is a lovely exception). Otherwise the finely tuned minimalism of the title track, the fusion of what sounds like most of the creators on ‘Crescent’ and Jones’ final solo tilt at ‘Ossicles’ all suggest a well-tuned sense for melody and pure feeling.