The Circle combines the old and new. The 'new' is the 12 tracks of pop infused indie rock that comprise this solo album by the UK's Jim Shepherd. The 'old' is the backstory of Jim Shepherd. Jim was the lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of Creation Records and Poptones darlings Jasmine Minks. And if that isn't enough of a selling point -- although it damn well should be -- consider the worthies that have joined in to support Jim on this album: Dave Morgan (The Loft, the Weather Prophets, and Subway Sect) on drums and production, Frank Sweeney (The June Brides) on strings and keys, and Arash Torabi (The June Brides, The Distractions, Beat Hotel) on bass. Guest vocals were supplied by Tommy Reid (The Jasmine Minks), Beth Arzy (The Luxembourg Signal, Jetstream Pony), Vapour Trails, and Marianne Dissard.
As fans of Jim's past work would expect, the songwriting for The Circle is as superb as it is varied. Rock, jangle, powerpop psychedelic pop and a bit of soul are all represented, and the performances are unfailingly tight irrespective of style. But what makes this album so special for our ears is the palpable passion for the material and the joy of playing it. The Circle is not some former rocker living off the past, it is a set of songs as vital as any indie rock you will find anywhere today. This album deserves a wide audience -- do your part.
The Circle is out now in digital, CD and vinyl formats via Spinout Nuggets.