Freedy Johnston Right Between The Promises

As with all of Johnston's releases, the abundance of crystal clear melodies here is almost overwhelming at first; as if you've walked into an antique shop for the first time and are afraid to touch anything for fear of dropping it. Although his voice doesn't always compliment the music, the overall effect is still one of pure roots-pop splendour in much the same way that Ron Sexsmith's Blue Boy captured that feeling earlier this year. As with Sexsmith, there remain more British touchstones than American ones in Johnston's music, from Squeeze to Costello and Nick Lowe, but that's not to say his themes aren't universal. "Arriving On A Train" is the album's laid-back centrepiece, with gorgeous ambient pedal steel, while the disjointed "Back To My Machine" perfectly captures the frequent unease of office relationships. With many more highlights such as this, Right Between The Promises is a beautiful record, and an appropriate introduction to Johnston's equally rich catalogue. (Elektra)