West Coast singer Mel Parsons is one of my musical discoveries of 2011, thanks to my friend Simon Burt who had a fabulous house concert for Mel. She's got a terrific voice and presence and writes pop-edged country songs with some interesting lyrics and lovely layered arrangements. After enjoying her first album Over my Shoulder, I looked forward to Mel's second album Red Grey Blue launched in September last year. Put it this way, it didn't let me down.
I've also enjoyed working out the bass for Mel's song 'Bones' which you can hear with some of the other Red Grey Blue songs on her website. I was interested to read there that ex-Cat Stevens bassist Bruce Lynch plays double bass for the album - and a number of other excellent musicians come along for the ride.
The Close Readers released their first album in June 2011. My friend Damien Wilkins is the songwriter, lead singer and powerhouse behind the band - a Wellington novelist and once the member of a 1970s Lower Hutt, his songs are crunchy things with raw unexpected lyrics and a rough-around-the-edges arrangements that jangle and thrill.
You'll find all the songs here to download or go to Cuba Street's Slow Boat.
Some other albums I've been playing and enjoying below - by no means the whole lot.