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Ted Barnes - Portal Nou

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 11 / 10 / 2008

Ted Barnes - Portal Nou
Label: Mornington Records
Format: CD


Inventive third solo album from former Beth Orton and Clayhill guitarist, Ted Barnes, which as well as Beth Orton, also features guest vocal appearances from Calexico's Francoiz Breut, Kathryn Williams and Clayhill's Gavin Clark

‘Portal Nou’ is the third solo album from former Beth Orton and Clayhill guitarist, Ted Barnes, and follows on from 2002's ‘Short Scenes’ and 2005 instrumental album, ‘Underbelly’. ‘Portal Nou’ has more of the spirit of ‘Short Scenes’ than ‘Underbelly’ as it has a number of guest vocals. ‘Singing Glasses’ opens the album and is very short, very delicate, and very peaceful. It makes perfect midnight listening. ‘Ghosts in the Cupboard’, has a jazzy feel, but also featuring Tindersticks-style piano has an element of a horror film soundtrack. ‘All That’s Real’ has superior guitar playing and guest vocals from Calexico's Francoiz Breut who sings like an angel. ‘Dreaming of Dogs’ is a relaxing chill out number, while ‘Portal Nou’ has a foreign town feel and in its eccentric arrangements recalls ‘The Wicker Man’ soundtrack. ‘Squeezebox’ is gentle on the ears and features three guest vocals. Assisted by Francoiz and Kathryn Williams, Dan Michaelson's husky vocals recall Nick Cave and Robert Fisher from the Willard Grant Conspiracy. ‘The Magician’s Assistant’ has a smooth acoustic drive to it and a trumpet gives it a Mexican feel.‘The Turning Point’ is a late night jazz number with deep grooves and beats, and, assisted by lush strings, is almost cinematic in sound. ‘Caught Out’ reunites Beth Orton and Ted. Beth is on great form here and it is far superior to anything on her recent ‘Comfort of Strangers’ album which she recorded without Ted. Beth obviously needs Ted far more then he needs her and this is the proof. ‘These Foolish Thoughts’ has a morning beat, with elegant guitar, deep bass and lush strings. ‘Trust Me’ is soft and lovely, an instrumental with a fine mouth organ solo. ‘If the Truth Hurts’ is dark and deep with vocals from Gavin Clark of Clayhill. ‘Coot’ provides a 13 second intro to ‘Dreams and Hopes’ the last track, which is, as Ted would say, wacky clown music. It features vocals from Kathryn Williams, trumpet and violin, and brings the album to a close on a soft even flow.

Track Listing:-
1 Singing Glasses
2 Ghosts In The Cupboard
3 All Thats Real
4 Dreaming Of Dogs
5 Portal Nou
6 Squeezebox
7 The Magicians Assistant
8 The Turning Point
9 Caught Out
10 These Foolish Thoughts
11 Trust Me
12 If the Truth Hurts
13 Coot
14 Dreams And Hopes

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Interview (2008)
Ted Barnes - Interview
One of Britain's most prolific guitarists, Ted Barnes is Beth Orton's formular regular guitarist and is also part of much praised folk trio Clayhill. Anthony Strutt talks to him about his just released third solo album, 'Portal Neu'
Interview (2003)

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