Trouts in mellow stream
roceed with caution if wearing high heels,” warns the cover graphic. Maybe this is an indication that Swimming with the Women — an independent release by Mike Rennie and Nick Turner of Sons of Trout, recorded live during the Wondergigs sessions in Cape Town — is not for those in formalwear.But that does not mean that this is a frivolous, forgettable release. It’s a melodious, soothing and captivating collection of folk-pop, with Rennie on violin and Turner on guitar, and both sharing vocal duty. The sounds range from acoustic folk, a dash of rock’n'roll and a touch of jazz to blues and swing. The lyrics are playful, like on the title track, poetically darting through the upbeat violin and guitar notes. Freedom and Happiness has a reggae vibe and Madiba and Masganja are funky tracks that cry out to be jived to. Jeff’s simple drum rhythms and monotonous intonation (guest vocals by Mike Hardy), with the guitar and string melody tying it all together, makes it a uniquely beautiful track. Sylvia Mdunyelwa lends her beautiful, strong voice to the Afro-jazz sounds of the sublime Inja and Jamie Jupiter helps out on the harmonica on two tracks: the aforementioned Masganja and the foot-tapping Making Love with the Sunshine. The album’s live sound fits well with its mellow mood, enhanced by the appreciative audience that makes one yearn to have been at the gig. It gets better with each listen: its soulful simplicity is addictive. Hopefully Mikanic won’t be a short-lived effort.
Tu Nokwe: African Child (Sheer)
African Child explores themes of traditional living, love and morality as well as Nokwe’s childhood experiences in Kwazulu-Natal. The compositions are gentle and melodic, fusing strains of traditional choral music with subtle and evocative guitar backing. The album is uneven and marred slightly by some irritating moralising and clichés. However, Nokwe’s voice is unstrained, honest and emotive and there are some stunning tracks on the album. — Matthew Wilhelm-Solomon
Erasure: Other People’s Songs (Mute)
And that’s what they should have stayed: other people’s songs. It was cute when Erasure did Abba in the Nineties; now their Eighties electro-pop sounds terribly out of date as they disastrously take on tracks like Everybody’s Got to Learn Sometime, When Will I See You Again, Walking in the Rain and (yawn) Can’t Help Falling in Love. — Riaan Wolmarans