Review of Communion: New Faces Album by Various Artists

The broad church that supports the collective assembly of Communion Records was only formed 6 years ago through the vision of Ben 'Mumford' Lovett, bassist Kevin Jones and producer Ian Grimble. From its early roots as a club night, it has now flourished into an umbrella that nurtures, produces and records some of the most interesting and individual emerging talents around. Communion Records has already had a helping hand in the development of Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Matthew And The Atlas, Alessi's Ark, Pete Roe and Lissie to name but a few. 'Communion: New Faces' represents the label's third full-length compilation and contains no less than 20 tracks from a diverse string of like-minded artists.

Various Artists Communion: New Faces Album

Heading up the track listing is London 'soul sensation' and BBC 'Sound Of 2012', Michael Kiwanuka, with a seriously smooth, jazz inflected cut 'Tell Me A Tale'. The very easy listening and mellow introduction to the compilation is infused with some seductive horns as well as flighty flutes creating a sound hewn from the very fibre of '60s and '70s soul classics. Julia Stone provides a more intimate outpouring as she purrs her tiny, but beautiful vocals through 'Let's Forget All The Things We Say' and Joe Banfi waxes lyrical about his love of wellies (In the best and most memorable fashion you're ever likely to hear) on the delightful 'Olive Green'. Gabriel And The Hounds mix it up a little with a Tarantino soundtrack emulating number, 'What Good Would That Do?', and Daughter show how to impart the torment, jealousy, betrayal and devastation of relationship failure on their brilliant and brooding song 'Love'...."Did she make your heart beat faster than I could? Did she give you what you hoped for?"

The album is never dull and the interest is maintained throughout as Ben Howard gives his vocals a light quiver on 'Three Tree Town', Keaton Henson tells it as it is (A la Will Varley) on 'To Your Health' and The Apache Relay bring out the maudlin violins on the rather dour 'American Nomad'. James Vincent McMorrow rips one of his best tracks from last year's 'Early In The Morning' album and Dan Croll uses waves of symphonic guitar to score 'Marion'. Boy & Bear take a more percussive, sometimes 'Tusk' emulating route, with the pulsating 'Milk And Sticks', Matt Corby does his best Jeff Buckley impression complete with strings on 'Kings, Queens, Beggars And Thieves' and Nathaniel Rateliff just about holds it all together on the loosely constructed delicacy of 'Just For Me But I Thought Of You'.

There is clearly no shortage of talent on 'Communion: New Faces' and there are little, if any, significantly low points that should have been lost in the edit. If there is a criticism at all, it is only that the sequence of songs and artists has not been given a great deal of thought. It is too random, as if someone had pressed shuffle but not bothered to check the resultant playlist. Julia Stone following Michael Kiwanuka, for instance, does little to help frame either in the best setting. However, if the success of the previous protagonists featured on the last two compilations is anything to go by then there is obviously no argument against submitting material in the hope of reaching a wider audience and, with the pedigree of songs and artists on show here, it can only enhance the exposure of the assembled collective.

Andrew Lockwood.