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Paul TaskerPaul Tasker
Album: Cold Weather Music
Label: Yellow Room
Tracks: 9
Website: http://www.paultaskermusic.com

Stop-start difficulties plagued the creation of the first album recorded under his own name but the clouds of delay have, thankfully, dispersed to allow Scotsman, Paul Tasker's "Cold Weather Music" to emerge gloriously into the daylight.

The determination, patience and devotion behind the craftsmanship of this nine-track, acoustic instrumental have triumphed. From a Scottish background of Highland rain and wind, Tusker's work hogs a warm front pushing the pleasure gauge up and up. The album is elegant and passionate, calm and intriguing, pastoral, folky and jazzy, underpinned by superb musicianship throughout.

Rightly, Tasker is widely praised for his guitar work. On this mesmerising, analogue recording - whether on guitar or clawhammer banjo - the some time Willard Grant Conspiracy member shows why he's so highly rated. The playing is sublime.

A Bert Jansch fan, he continually nudges and moulds his melodies into shape in solo tracks or duets that feature flutes, cello, muted percussion and pedal steel. The sparkling ideas embrace classical passages that give way to bluegrass nuances, frothy jazz, and even swamp folk.

The blissful arrangements veer seamlessly from the delicate to the eloquent with a constant sheen of pride and daring evident on each and every track. The dreamy Gorlitzer is intricately moody and at times I half expected Nick Drake to pop in to whisper lyrics. The delicious Sky Train continues the English folk flavour with flute and cello, conjuring up images of clouds hovering over a brooding mountaintop.

Valve Oil is terrific: a subtle, bluegrass-tinged stomper, with a small 's' enhanced by Thomas Marsden's glistening pedal steel nipping at the edges: made me think of a Tony Joe White offering, without the moonshine.

InE is a jazzy guitar duet where the interplay between Tasker and long-time collaborator, Dejan Lapanja, is both playful and beguiling. Lapanja also deftly mixed and mastered the tracks in Berlin and Ljubljana after the recording sessions at two Glasgow studios with noted input from Jo Shaw (flute), Corran Macarthur (cello) and Luigi Pasquini (percussion).

Tasker has responded to real life and imagined events in the album and brought us a spirited and warming collection of tracks that are as assuring and adventurous as they are luscious.

Cold Weather Music is the first of two album releases for Tasker in 2016 as his folk-blues duo, Doghouse Roses (with Iona Macdonald) will release Lost is Not Losing at a date to be decided.

Mike Ritchie
www.mikeritchiemedia.co.uk