In case anyone hadn't noticed, it's that time of the year again. That time of year when little seems a better thought than that of being in a warm place with a hot woman and a cold beer (as is my understanding). How about the music? On "Shattered Pleasures", Glasgow folk mainstay John Hinshelwood recruits the musical talents of Sandra Gellatly. Together, they've made an album rich in thought-provoking lyrics and delightful harmonies. Put this one on your Christmas list.
"Chance and Circumstance" starts the album nicely, with John and Sandra sharing vocal duties over a faux-country twang. Sandra assumes the mantle on "The Secret", a nice little piece of advice for anyone who ever thought they had stolen a march on the world. Part of Hinshelwood's lyrical guile comes from his low-fat approach. Tracks such as "Tried So Hard" are breezy and straightforward, seemingly simple but provoking thoughts in the listener as each verse ends. Hinshelwood's words cut right to the point.
Throughout the album, there is a fair balance between songs on which John sings lead and songs on which Sandra sings lead. In many ways, this alternating seems to benefit the album's flow. Certainly, there's not a track on the CD that you'd feel even slightly compelled to skip.
With the majority of tracks on this release written and composed by Hinshelwood, there was always going to be a threat of a good album appearing on the radar. In the company of Ms Gellatly, whose role as lead vocalist on several tracks is not to be underestimated, Hinshelwood has taken a potentially good idea and made it into a great album.