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Tess Of The Circle - 'Thorns' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     December 12, 2013    
 
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An album that is undeniably and unashamedly British sounding.

The curiously named Tess Of The Circle is the brainchild of male singer/songwriter Tess Jones. While Jones' first solo album 'Magpie' (released under the name Tess) was an acoustic, introspective affair, 'Thorns' sees Jones enlist a new 'circle' of friends with impressive credentials to broaden his sound, and no doubt his audience too. Space prevents me from listing everybody involved, but they have performed with the likes of Paul Weller, Ocean Colour Scene, Stevie Nicks, James Morrison, Ian Brown, Joan Armatrading and Bryan Ferry, and yet it's unknown guitarist Lee Clifton who has undoubtedly turned in one of the star turns of the album.

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It's an album that is undeniably and unashamedly British sounding, and taps into a traditional yet eclectic Seventies Rock style that evokes memories of The Moody Blues, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Jethro Tull, while the varied and stirring string arrangements are undoubtedly reminiscent of Electric Light Orchestra, but on the other hand it also manages to take in a more modern Indie yet Arty approach. A varied mix of styles pervades throughout the eleven tracks, with progressive leanings and periodical forays into folk territory that remind this particular listener of Mostly Autumn. The songs range from a straightforward Rock style to darker and atmospheric pieces, and lighter, jaunty and pop-tinged numbers to delicate, wistful ballads, and one of the key attractions is that you never know which direction each song will head, which keeps it all interesting throughout.

The acoustic guitar of Tess Jones is obviously to the fore, but integrated perfectly with Lee Clifton's elegant electric guitar passages, and the superb string arrangements and varied choice of instrumentation demonstrate an impressive flair for composition, and the story-telling, poetic style of lyrics are deeply personal yet accessible. I always think I should mention that this type of album is at the lighter and mature end of what Fireworks & Rocktopia cover, but if that type of thing floats your particular boat, then this is a real treat.

Ant Heeks

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