Court & Spark Bless You

Any band with enough good sense to take their name from one of Joni Mitchell's best albums must be blessed with a certain amount of musical knowledge. But that isn't enough to ensure that the band in question can produce a decent album - it can help, but it doesn't always follow. Thankfully, San Francisco's the Court & Spark can back it up with something very special indeed. For some reason only known to themselves, the Court & Spark try their utmost to shake off the inevitable alt-country tag that has been attached to them, as if there's some kind of stigma that goes along with it. But there's no doubt with all the banjo and pedal steel that there is a huge country influence, yet it is the same kind of country tinge that has touched Lambchop, resulting in a more diverse sound than most other bands that get labelled alt-country. The music on Bless You also has a lot in common with Lambchop, as it covers a lot of ground, from the slow lolloping beat of "To See The Fires" through to the epic "Fade Out To Little Arrow." The ten tracks share a common vision while retaining an eclecticism that makes for an absolutely stunning record. The sound does brush shoulders with folk and roots too, with some wonderful vocal harmonies that turn up on most songs. Bless You is an accomplished and surprisingly mature album that ranks as one of this year's best in any genre you care to classify it. (Absolutely Kosher)