Nick Harper, Riven (Sangraal)
Singer, songwriter, guitarist is an inadequate description for Nick Harper. On stage he is a force of nature who'd make an orchestral fireworks concert seem puny by comparison and in the studio, as here, on possibly his best album to date, he crafts music that is sublimely tuneful, lyrically intelligent and showcases the multi-tracked talents of someone who's been criminally overlooked for years. The chorus of Sunshine, on which Harper's stacked vocals give Crosby, Stills & Nash in their pomp a run for their money, is a soaring, lift-you-out-of-your-seat musical high that's worth the admission price alone. Elsewhere, There Never Was has the acoustic guitar magic that never ceases to enthral Harper gig-goers supporting a gorgeous, typically wholehearted vocal and The Juicy Fruit Girl combines lost love, a rummage through the attic and social networking with the same superb storytelling wit that Harper turns on reality television shows and politicians (the merciless The Incredible Melting Man). If he's passed you by, this is a perfect entry point into Harper's world.