Taking his cue from iconic 60s and 70s songwriters like Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Brian Wilson and Ray Davies, Halifax's Brent Randall crafts clearly realized pop tunes that are impeccably arranged, with horns, strings, harp, steel drums and other grandiose instruments. No fewer than 25 musicians appear on We Were Strangers, five of whom are Randall's Pinecones, a talented group that includes Laura Peek, Jessica Lewis, Dave Ewenson, Brian O'Reilly and Joel Goguen.
Oddly, although Randall is clearly the focal point, his cabaret-style singing is sometimes buried in the mix, and when it surfaces, fails to captivate in the way, say, his piano tinkling does. Still, if accomplished arrangements, un-fuzzy production, fantastical lyrics and glossy melody are your thing, best to snap up this sparkly bauble.
Top track: Bluebirds, Flowers And Other Things
Brent Randall plays the Supermarket on Wednesday (January 14).