Assured first album from south London songsmith

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Score 4

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Autumnal Almanac

This has already been a vintage year for male singer-songwriters, with impressive albums from Ed Harcourt, Tom McRae, Ian McCulloch and Daniel Lanois. What chance, then, for a precocious 22-year-old in such esteemed company?

Actually, Adam Masterson has made an album worthy of any of the above. He has the right pedigree: his second gig was in support of the Stereophonics’ Kelly Jones at the Irving Plaza in New York, his producer is Mick Glossop and his backing band includes Kate St John and Johnny Scott?all collaborators with Van Morrison.

One Tale Too Many’s eight tracks are all shimmering, end-of-summer songs imbued with a voice that’s half Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz and, on “What Yesterday Brings”, half Richard Ashcroft. Indeed, this is the sort of record that Ashcroft really ought to be making?epic in ambition yet warm and intimate.

It’s Masterson’s voice that captivates throughout. The fags-and-whiskey croak of “We’re The Last” is far removed from the delicate lament of “Into Nowhere Land”. “Sunlight Song” and “Same Sad Story” are the highlights, the former a simple but beautiful lyric set to an almost entirely acoustic backing, while the latter, on which Masterson manages a passable imitation of Bruce Springsteen, features an enormous chorus. “Sarah Queen Of England” is the one occasion on which the lyrics fail to hold the song by descending into mawkishness.

It’s easy to see why Masterson cites Ryan Adams as an influence?both write accomplished songs without giving a damn about hit singles. One Tale Too Many could be the first step towards Ryan Adams-style success.

A sparkling debut.