Occasional Keepers True North

The response to the Occasional Keepers’ first album was positive enough that a supposed one-off collaboration has continued to bear fruit. Bringing together Trembling Blue Stars’ Bobby Wratten and the Wake’s Carolyn Allen and Caesar, the band are a pleasant reminder of the glory days of Sarah Records, demonstrating all involved are still more than capable of making great music. True North is a slightly different record than its predecessor, in that despite the fact that it is collaboration, it definitely feels like the songs were penned by two different parties. That, not surprisingly, translates into songs that sound more like one band than the other, although strangely enough, it makes for a more satisfying album. There is also a shift of focus away from the lovely, swirling instrumentals that dominated the first album to songs, the best of which come via the duo from the Wake, such as the hypnotic "Town Of 85 Lights.” Despite the two-handed approach to the writing, the way that all the songs have little touches from both artists, such as Caesar’s melodica and Wratten’s guitar, and the deft production of Ian Catt, make this a more well-rounded record than any of the contributors have made in some time. (LTM)