RAINTOWN – Acoustic Heart (BMB002CD)

Acoustic HeartDon’t be too late.

Raintown released Acoustic Heart on April 26th. I came across it a week or two later and have spent a week or two listening to it to double check what I first thought about a duo that were new to me.

They describe the album as, “We took inspiration from the Transatlantic Sessions which brings together the best music of Nashville, Ireland and Scotland” and Acoustic Heart is skilled, varied (“Country meets Celtic” is the strapline on the promo document), great fun to listen to – and the CD has an energy that I assume translates into live performances.

Raintown are husband and wife Claire McArthur Bain on vocals and Paul Bain on vocals and guitar. They’re supported by a band led by their producer, Stevie Lawrence. At various times I can’t help noticing how well written and produced the tracks are – the harmonica here, the brass there, the snare drum neatly dropped in to drive the latter half of a song and so on.

There are nine new compositions, while ‘Light The Fuse Up’ and ‘Writing On The Wall’ are reimagined versions of earlier Raintown songs.

The album opens with ‘Play It Loud’ – country meets celtic, both in lyric and arrangement, and with a chorus that, as much as any Skerryvore or Highwaymen anthem, you can’t help but join in with. It’s followed by ‘Day In The Sun’, a track which draws on country/bluegrass and rock to create a powerful driving song (in both senses of that expression). The album is off to an energetic start.

The mood is widened. ‘My Whole World’ is tender, McArthur Bain’s vocal capturing the tone on a tale of a life changed (“wedding dress for sale…. instead of white, I’m wearing black/Nothing I can do or say to make God give him back”). ‘In Your Heart’ similarly highlights McArthur Bain’s yearning vocal against a simple acoustic arrangement.

‘Red Dress’ is great fun – folky vocal over a village hall dance beat; ‘Run With The Night’ is bouncy, taking me back to late 70’s / early 80’s good times. The final track is ‘Thankful For It All’, another simple acoustic arrangement, this time with Bain and McArthur Bain swapping lines on a gentle album closer.

For all that I’ve described a range of styles, the overall feel is an album which comes over as being a collection of tracks which harmonise rather than clash – tracks, therefore, which showcase the duo’s breadth and range of influences.

While the album might be at the edge of the taste of rootsier folking.com readers, I can only suggest that, as I started out, don’t be too late to give Acoustic Heart a listen.

There are only two gigs on their web page, London in July and Milngavie in November.

Mike Wistow

 Artists’ website: https://www.raintownmusic.com

‘My Whole World’ – acoustic version: