Respected British acoustic guitarist and singer-songwriter’s third album paints a tranquil picture that stretches the folk boundaries
Moving vocals, beautiful arrangements, lush strings, super three part harmonies, ace musicianship and quality song-writing on the accomplished third album from Gren Bartley. The British artist is creating something original in the underground folk scene. This album is far more than just a folk album though. Call it roots, call it acoustic, call it what you like. I call it magnificent. He addsCreaturesto that word to make up the album title.
Gren takes all lead vocals and plays guitar and banjo, Julia Disney vocals, piano and violin. Sarah Smout vocals and cello. Lydia Glanville provides percussion and they are joined by a few more top guys and gals here and there. It’s a Premier Divison team and Gren is star striker.
MAGNIFICENT CREATURES is the follow up to the successful WINTER FIRES album, giving us a beautiful symphonic sound. The expert finger-style guitarist prefers a less is more modus operandi on guitar, and those wide and subtle brush strokes work well on this thoughtful set of 11 new songs. Some of the approach here reminds me of the great 1977 album ROUGH MIX from Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane, such as the track Home Soon.
Comparisons to Rufus Wainwright, Elliot Smith and Badly Drawn Boy have also been made. Not by me. Gren is talented and ambitious enough to make his own mark and for me, he does that very well with this album. He has been recording and touring non-stop these past few years, working with an array of musicians and producers. MAGNIFICENT CREATURES was produced by Gavin Monaghan, the go-to-guy for such current mainstream success stories as Editors, Kings Of Leon, Paulo Nutini, Young Braves et al. Simon Redley