Richard Davies Barbarians

Although Australian ex-pat Richard Davies now lives in America, he certainly hasn't adopted a cookie-cutter approach to his pop craft. From his first recordings with Australian outfit the Moles, through his collaboration with Eric Matthews in Cardinal and now on his third full-length solo album, Davies' exquisite songwriting skills always shine through. Though these darkly chiming tracks might not make Barbarians the album that breaks Davies to new audiences around the world, it's full of beautiful treasures for those willing to lend an ear. In fact, Barbarians is the least ornate and the most stripped-down of any of his recordings. Davies' pop style has never been overly sweet, instead travelling down distinctive melodic progressions without seeming overly experimental. His musical gift is the ability to craft stunningly warm melodies without overtly borrowing from the past. Richard Davies has become his own reference point, which is an increasing rarity in the world of vocal/guitar pop. There's no shtick to grab your attention, no crazy instrumentation, no vocal gymnastics, no wild changes in tempo or style and if anything Davies risks the downfall of sameness on these minimalist songs. But his simply plucked guitar melodies, with the odd organ vamp and brushed rhythms match wonderfully with his soft vocals, making tracks like "Amsterdam," "May" and "Palo Alto" simply blissful. (Kindercore)