His 25th album is John Martyn's best for some time, a relaxed, summery affair on which the songs seem to evaporate in their warm surroundings, leaving just Cheshire Cat suggestions of emotions and Martyn's balmy baritone humming like a cloud of insects.
Chicago hip-hop engineer Stefon Taylor has decked the one-time folkie out with discreet, shuffling grooves that carry the songs lightly along. Martyn's languid, slightly baffled vocal style suits the trancey grooves well; they offer a regular, but not intrusive, structure against which he can extemporise freely as the feeling takes him. Check the way All In Your Favour breaks down into looped layers of scatted vocables riding a warm, rolling breakbeat.
The warmth radiating from the album stretches to Martyn's delivery, too: even when considering The Downward Pull Of Human Nature, he manages to sweeten the fatalism with a graceful, delicate touch, which in less able hands would lapse into whimsy. If there is a fault, it lies in the comparative lack of guitar on And, apart from one perfunctory wah-wah solo in Step it Up, there's little trace of the innovative six-stringed artistry that glowed through albums such as Solid Air. Why bury it so invisibly here?