Spencer Cullum


Despite his current Nashville environs, Spencer Cullum is still anchored more firmly to UK shores of his East London upbringing than to the Cumberland Valley’s more signature sounds. Bringing to bloom ideas that germinated on his debut, Coin Collection, the sequel once again embraces Anglican Folk but with a far less stringent grip. Notes of jazz, prog and, a reflection of the seventies’ dalliance with Country and Americana that crept into AOR pop waft through. Cullum likewise catches wind of a bit of the abrasion that would shape Buckley’s Starsailor, never settling for simple comfort in his compositions. At the edges there’s a folk breeze that hints at the assembled Nashville crew behind its creation, coming to a head on the light-hearted “Cold Damp Valley.” Said crew finds RSTB faves like Sean Thompson, Rich Ruth, Dominic Billett (Erin Rae, The Kernal), Adam Bednarik (Justin Townes Earl), and session vet Jim Hoke carving the record into shape. Guest vocals from Yuma Abe, Erin Rae, and Dana Gravatski lend their own charms as well.

The previous album feels like the building blocks to what’s happening on Coin Collection 2. It remains a record rooted in the fragrant, perfumed vision of English folk, but Cullum’s voracious intake of influences stretches the record far beyond homage or affectation. Abe’s duet straddles the ‘70s saturated calm that hangs in the air between the Unhalfbricking epics and the Japanese country sighs of Chu Kosaka and Makoto Kubota. The record reaches further into the “Sailor’s Life” balance between jazz and progressive impulses as it once again embraces a touch of pastoral German prog on “The Three Magnets,” a kind of more refined companion to “Dieterich Buxtehude” from the debut. What’s more prominent in the contrast between the first and the second is a sense of flow. There’s a sun-traced arc over the album pushing from the dawn-blink of “What A Wast of an Echo” to the sundown slip of “The Same Day Departure.” The record succeeds in becoming more than just an English folk record with a solid Nashville undercarriage, turning into a folk fusion classic for the current age.

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