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Michael Rault Michael Rault
Album: It's A New Day Tonight
Label: Wick
Tracks: 10

In a perfect world records by the likes of Emitt Rhodes, Big Star, Badfinger, The Raspberries, Chris Bell (of course) and even some early Todd Rundgren would be revered by millions instead of cherished by a few. To go looking for this bubble of powerpop perfection from the early seventies is to discover that to-the-point guitar songs with killer melodies and swirling harmonies didn't die with the dissolution of The Beatles.

Canadian singer songwriter Michael Rault clearly knows this to be true as this searing first album for Daptone's fledgling rock imprint Wick ably testifies. He brings a little Bolan-esque vocal breathiness to the mix - a welcome retention from his 2015 debut Living Daylight - but many of the best moments here could be the recently resolved bastard offspring of DNA harvested from Instant Karma and Maybe I'm Amazed.

That bit is crucial, by the way, because for all that It's a New Day Tonight has a well-honed sense of the past - and that includes venerable 21st century renegades like The Shins, Black Keys and Modest Mouse as well - it is very much a record of the moment made by a twenty-something who wears a moustache without irony and looks like the young James Taylor.

The reclined vibe of Dream Song speaks of the album's pre-occupation with what goes on after dark, a theme that's revisited in the rollicking Out of the Light, the judiciously jangling Sleeping & Smiling and the loping, soulful Sleep With Me with its beautiful string quartet asides, as well as in the fx-skewed folk-soul of the title track and its accompanying video inspired by Groundhog Day.

Album opener I'll Be There glories in some deliciously confident guitar riffery that's bright enough to have walked off Big Star's debut with falsetto vocal hijinks to match. Oh, Clever Boy takes Abbey Road down a Soul mine, while on Pyramid Scheme a gently husky vocal relates the hopeful flip side to a bad situation set to a richly recorded retro bassline and in classic style the epic, leave-'em-wantin'-more closer When the Sun Shines, is the aural equivalent of the first smile of the day.

Sheer bliss.

Nick Churchill