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New Music: James Varda - Chance And Time


If last year’s The River And The Stars was the sound of James Varda’s artistic reawakening, the new album Chance And Time (2014) - released today on Small Things Records - finds him playing with the grace and flavour of an English Elliot Smith. On every level, this is an extraordinary piece of work.
Varda has said that things have ‘fallen into place’ on this album. Always a great guitar player, he's on virtuoso form. Every careful arpeggio and minimal lick gives the song what it needs and no more. To paraphrase Townes Van Zandt, Varda has always had to ‘sing for the sake of the song’. Bringing together many of the musicians who played on The River And The Stars, there’s a powerful sense of a band coming together who buy into that ethos. Special mention to Johanna Herron whose vocals melt perfectly into Varda’s on Our Love Will Never End, Fliss Jones whose piano on Beside The Sea is a piece of understated brilliance, and Nick Harper who makes an appearance with some great playing on One Thing After Another.
Chance And Time carries a sense of things that need saying: from the sweet melodies and rare moments of May This Moment Ever Glow and Let My Place, to the cold reality of The Doctor Spoke and Only Love, Varda creates series of exquisite and unique soundscapes. Pass It On delivers a love song to England, to love, to life and everything that is precious – the natural landscapes of East Anglia and the coast, and the music that sustains him. Varda spins a universal truth from the intensely personal and there are moments on this record that come back to you long after the last note’s echo.


Writing and recording entirely on his own terms with little, if any, recognition from the mainstream music media – it was something of a minor victory for Mark Radcliffe to play Our Love Will Never End on the Radio 2 Folk Show a few weeks back – Varda remains the acoustic outsider with indie sensibility.
 
Chance And Time is an astonishing album. As a chronicler of life, landscape, love and pain, Varda is unmatched among British songwriters. His writing has never been more precise or delivered a more telling emotional punch; as always taking on the broadest of influences – New York new wave to Dylan and Philip Glass, the poetry of Jane Kenyon, the photography of Robert Adams, and dozens more besides. He’s always made very good, thoughtful records with well-crafted lyrics and great guitar. But here’s the skinny: 26 years on from the John Leckie-produced Hunger, the lyrics, melodies and musicianship on Chance And Time are as good as you'll hear. James Varda plays, writes and sings better than ever and, in doing so, has produced the most powerful work of his career.

This is a kosher, solid gold, five-star record.


Chance And Time is available from: http://www.jamesvarda.com/Shop or via amazon and other outlets.
For more info, news and updates, follow @JamesVardaMusic on twitter or the James Varda facebook page.
 

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