Naim Amor + M Ward (& Howe Gelb)

You know how things come together sometimes, coincidences you could say.

Well two albums came my way in the last month or so which seem to me to be connected, although as far as I know there's no direct contact between the people involved.

Naim Amor is a French guitar player and singer who has spent the last ten years or so living in Tucson, Arizona. While living there, he's rubbed up against Howe Gelb, Calexico and other members of that city's notable music community. He sings in English and French and plays a kind of smoky, beautifully understated French jazz. Apparently, Howe Gelb says he's the best guitar player he's seen, and he's seen a few.

His new album Dansons is just out on Vacilando 68 and it breaks new ground in combining Brazilian rhythms with Amor's well bedded French roots style. The result is a fascinating mixture of desert folk and sunny samba. Here's the opening track from the album, Creole, a great example of that fusion.

Here are a couple of other songs from the album, played live last year with Arthur Vint on sweet brush drum accompaniment. How sweet it is.

The further information you certainly need is all here.

M Ward is a character you're more likely to have come across in recent years through his collaborations - one half of She & Him with Zooey Deschanel, or in the indie supergroup Monsters of Folk. He's been a well known producer and session head for many years. But his first solo album was put out on Howe Gelb's Ow Om label. It contained this gorgeous, and very Howe Gelb-ish, song, a perfect slice of young man nostalgia.

After several busy years of collaborations, his new solo album came out recently on Merge/Bella Union. While I have to admit I found the album patchy as a whole, it still has two of the most sublime pieces of, I don't know, blissful folk music. This all time classic for example, which somehow reminds me of David Gates and Bread - I like things that remind me of them.

Here's another absolute gem from the album - never was a song title so in tune with the effect of the song.

So, take three names from this. Naim Amor, M Ward and Howe Gelb, the latter the glue between the others, so to speak.
*I should say that I requested the following song from Mr Gelb at a show in Cork one time. He turned me down and I regret to say that I cursed him in public. For this I apologise. No matter how fond a place in my heart the song holds, there's no excuse for swearing at a living legend.


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