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Ian Sherwood Ian Sherwood
Album: Bring The Light
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 12

Originally released in Canada last year and now being made more widely available, this is the multi-award winning Halifax-based singer-songwriter's fifth album, a nasally-sung acoustic-based folksy shade of Americana with pop sensibilities.

It opens with the itchy syncopated drumming of 'Little Birds' featuring fellow Canadian singer-songwriter Jenn Grant on backing as it gathers in sound and expanse towards the end. Underpinned with keyboards and brass, there's more of a tribal beat thump to 'Dig a Hole' a similar driving rhythmic approach adopted on 'Hits Me Right' (from whence comes the album title) while, at the other end of the scale, 'Firefly' starts out as a fluttering acoustic fingerpicked number about the greater need to find "someone to take me home" the older you get, before driving drums and whistling swell the sound.

Nodding to Springsteen influences, 'I See Red' is a mid-tempo, sonorous piano backed acoustic anthemic ballad while there's more of a Lumineers air to the lovely slow heartbreak waltzer 'Don't Want To Leave' with its string arrangement and the gently chugging 'I'm Not A Boy' leans to the softer pop yearnings of Coldplay.

On a more muscular note, 'Leaving Alberta' is an intimately sung, moody slow swayer with organ and sax, the chorus soaring before ebbing away back to the main melodic thrust, The backing vocals here are provided by the great Catherine MacLellan, who also does excellent duty on the folksier meditative swayalong 'Know the Darkness' which features the striking line "don't waste your wishes and nickels on broken-down wells", as well as shading the deep piano resonances of the end of relationship 'Long Kiss Goodbye'.

There's more bruised romanticism to be found on 'We're Only Human', Sherwood sustaining the note on that last word accompanied by brushed snares as the song gathers to a vaulting crescendo and dying fade, the album closes on a similarly introspective note with the confessional, pleading 'Come Back to Me' that spotlights just his voice and simple acoustic guitar.

His current short UK tour will help spread the word, but if you can't catch him in person then make his acquaintance here and start building a lasting relationship.

Mike Davies