Album, Single and EP Reviews



  Ascendant by Mark Northfield

Ascendant cover art

Artist: Mark Northfield
Title: Ascendant
Catalogue Number: Substantive STAVECD1
Review Format: CD
Release Year: 2008

At Bluesbunny Towers we appreciate a sense of humour. When Mark Northfield contacted us about getting his new album reviewed, he went out of his way to apologise for going the way of the jazz on one of the tracks. A different approach to marketing surely as he completely failed to mention the rest of this fine album.

"Waiting for Green" opens the album sounding overly polite and more than a bit like a musical offcut. Then the sales pitch starts properly. "The Calm", driven by a simple piano figure, develops into an entrancing song featuring some truly immaculate harmonies. Elegant and sophisticated is definitely the way to go and this album features many a classy performance. Things take an ethereal turn with "Decidedly Dumb". Ellen Jakubiel takes lead vocals on this track and sings like the whole world is her stage. The song twists and turns as the spotlight fades on her metaphorical sequins. There is an underlying surreal feel to the lyrics throughout as well with "Sleeping Beauty" transporting you off into some sugar coated fantasy land. "Our Father" is likewise an enchantment making your head swim with images of bejewelled dancing nuns. Our Mr Northfield has a way with words.

Preconceived notions are dangerous things, especially to the reviewer. By the end of the first track, Bluesbunny had resigned himself to a selection of Andrew Lloyd Webber meets Peter Gabriel background tunes. Fortunately, the inspiration was soon upon us and, as we listened, we grew steadily more enamoured with this album. A great deal of care has gone into its preparation and that is perhaps its best quality. It has all that subtlety that you only begin to appreciate when you listen to it again and there is its true value. It is like a Tim Burton movie for the ears - quirky, detailed, immaculately produced but perhaps lacking instantaneous appeal. Do not doubt however that this album is good and that's a fact! It will win you over.
Review Date: April 17 2008