Mike Walker/Stuart McCallum Beholden Shell-Like Records ****
A clash of textures. Two guitars. Nylon against steel. High register against low. Acoustic guitar communion of a sort. Distance of another. Soprano and baritone guitar lines jutting in and out. A surprising sentimentality at play, it’s that blunt bittersweet rainstreaked northernness that’s part of the appeal, the two equally no-nonsense versions of ‘When I Fall in Love’ featuring different arrangements the dilettante centre of a very real album.
‘Sally’ later is just the right side of soppy (Sally, Sally, pride of our alley, you’ll be guaranteed to be mouthing the words). Metheny-like atmospheres rise and dissolve into new streams of thought on Beholden, and Walker’s ‘Wallenda’s Last Stand’ Impossible Gentlemen fans will know from their 2011 eponymous debut makes it in on (‘Clockmaker’ is here, too). Mostly a studio set recorded in Manchester ‘Black Orpheus’ recorded live at the Cinnamon club in Altrincham has some very live audience applause on a lovely album that deserves plenty of the sustained variety. SG
Mike Walker, pictured top left, with Stuart McCallum. Beholden is released on 27 October