The list of January Album and EP releases is starting to grow, with Highasakite and Pom Poko already on the list - the latter surprisingly popping up with an EP on the 28th. But I still have dozens of releases that I missed last year, and I will continue to (briefly) write about as many as possible before things get too hectic.
I have covered Bony Man previously, the Icelandic songwriter (Guðlaugur Jón Árnason in ‘real life’) made a pretty big impression when he appeared out of nowhere with the single entitled ‘Unforgiven’. His online profile always suggests that he comes from a family with deep musical roots, so I’m sure he’s appeared in other projects - although not even Google has helped me establish what those might have been.
Anyway album ‘Cinnamon Fields’ was released in September and it’s just completely timeless, with vocals just so damn good that like me you‘ll really wonder where he’s been all this time. Opening with ‘Hole in the World’, there’s a simplicity to start with, acoustic guitar and those vocals, with just a brief crescendo of strings to add emphasis where needed, before building to a pretty intense conclusion, where he throws the orchestral sink at the arrangements, ‘Unforgiven’ as mentioned previously is an obvious highlight, still utterly gorgeous with a melody that really will get inside you.
‘Letter to Lisa’ has unusual melodies and some lovely subtle musical inflections that remind me of the much underrated (and missed) The Miserable Rich, whilst the beautiful melancholy vocals and instrumentals in ‘If You Leave’ will seemingly carry you in the wind across the highest of mountains. It feels like a climactic point of the album, yet title track ‘Cinnamon Fields’ is understated in the opening stages but also builds to another level completely. However I also like tracks such as ‘Your Oar’, which are built again around the simplicity of acoustic guitar, and a reminder that as impressive as the arrangements are, live gigs with just Bony Man and guitar must be a really immersive experience.
Of course the musical planet has a lot of really good songwriters with outstanding vocals, and Bony Man isn’t necessarily doing anything wildly different. And it’s true that not every track quite soars to the outstanding heights of ‘Unforgiven’, but that’s a song which is particularly special. However, considered in its entirety ’Cinnamon Fields’ is simply an excellent release, mature and rich in instrumental textures, and always carried through by Árnason‘s pure and persuasive vocals. I’m convinced that the momentum behind him will continue to grow, because there’s always room for an artist like this.