erasing clouds

Green Peppers, Joni’s Garden

review by anna battista

Fans of Scottish bands who fondly remember Jim McCulloch’s name in connection with the Soup Dragons, BMX Bandits and Superstar will be happy to know that he’s now back with his own solo project, the Green Peppers. McCulloch wrote, arranged and produced all the tracks on the Green Peppers’ flawless debut album Joni’s Garden, which also features guest appearances from Alan Hutchison, Jim Gash, Joe McAlinden, David Scott and Isobel Campbell.

The album is mostly acoustic and yet, though the guitar seems to be the predominating instrument of all the eleven tracks here included, clarinet, piano, bass and accordion also contribute to interweave the musical texture of the songs. McCulloch opens the album with the title track, a very promising song and just a taste of what will come after. “Green” is the story of a Harley Davidson speeding along the street while Jim is cycling to work; the beautiful “Anything Goes” reminds of the best Superstar tracks. “The Dreamer” and “Blink of an Eye” feature Isobel Campbell on vocals (she also contributed with backing vocals on other tracks) and are both beautiful ethereal songs, the former also retains something exotic and incredibly irresistible about it, perhaps its bossa nova-hinting melody. The last track, “Time Machine”, has all the potential for a great and intelligent pop hit and closes with the words “green is the colour”, the same lyrics which opened the second track on Joni’s Garden, almost to mark a continuity between the beginning and the end of the whole album, a sort of circularity that points back the listener to the start.

Joni’s Garden is not an album made of jangling guitars and catchy melodies, it’s an accomplished introspective and intimate work that contains elements of pop, folk, melodic and pastoral music and a special magic which is rare to find nowadays in many other releases.


Issue 29, December 2004

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