Guitar maker to many an artist featured on these pages, Alister Atkin now turns his attention to his own musical creativity. As a regular performer in his home county of Kent, and now further a field, Alister has had time to let these songs mature into an accomplished, and yet, somewhat unexpected collection.
Surprisingly, this isn't about guitar histrionics of any description; the emphasis is on songcraft and spare arrangements that at best smoulder with a passion seldom felt on a debut. Augmenting his core group of players with such luminaries as Tim Edey, Brendan Power and Kathryn Williams is a nice touch but it remains a team performance with no one player dominating proceedings. With a snug blanket of strings, Hammond organ, upright bass, steel guitar and brass, subtle shades of Jackson Browne, Boo Hewerdine and Ron Sexsmith emerge.
'Soul Mates In Time' hovers on a heat haze of melody with snippets of Celtic fiddle and chugging percussion. And 'Beautiful Child' adds drama with sax, trombone and electric guitar elevating the chorus with a shot of Stax soul.
Tough times are felt on 'Darkest Day Of The Year' with one of the less busy arrangements allowing the words to become even more potent - 'and in the forest all the leaves are gone and just one wild rose is all that's holding on.' And Chris Difford's words are shaped into another distinctive track for 'The Power Of Now' with Tim Edey's melodeon softly accompanying the epic tale of life's long fight and the friendships which sustain us.
Its assured musicianship and elegant words make this enchanting and beautifully paced set of love letters a thrilling debut.