(Song, By Toad)
Jon Rooney first appeared on the radar of Edinburgh label Song, By Toad via a number of self-recorded and self-released EPs, and while this is the Seattle-based musician and lyricist's maiden long-player you'd never know it. Winter Seeds is shot through with a confidence and shy swagger more befitting of established artists, fully aware of and in control of its sonic and thematic purview - and all the better for it. Nagging melodies spring up like daffodils - Every Revelry, Drunk On Grudges - while the lyrical pull, all vignettes and elliptical observation, is irresistible, as on The Talisman And Siobhan ("I despise your mongrel eyes, your every moan"). There's little evidence of a thirst for sonic climax or epiphany - this is defiantly not rock - but that serves as a plus, the reined-in performances and simplicity of the songs training the focus on an uncommon grasp of adroit, heartfelt songcraft that sets Rooney on track to follow the likes of Bill Callahan and David Berman into the pantheon of awkward, visionary American outsiders. Essential.