"The thorn is deep inside me," Doug Paisley sings in Come Here My Love. The thorn, a deep-rooted tristesse, is the constant companion of the title and, like many people with a lingering condition, the Canadian singer-songwriter is willing to live side by side with the pain. The nine songs that make up Paisley's second full-length album, heard on his recent tour with Bonnie Prince Billy, are rooted thematically in Oh Lonesome Me-country music but these are not Don Gibson. These are songs of sadness bottled up and shaken, creating an exceptional alt-country album. In Don't Make Me Wait, a duet with his incredible fellow Torontonian (Leslie) Feist, he says: "You'll learn to love again 'cause somehow in the end it's so easy for you just to move on." Somehow, though, you have the feeling Paisley's not so interested in moving on. He's keen on mining the hurt, exploring its causes and effects. The verse has this killer line: "Don't make me wait if you know you're through tryin'." Paisley's lyrics are as crisp and clean as his guitar work, his vocals as rich as Ian Tyson's. And that Hammond organ that sounds vaguely familiar? That's Garth Hudson, of the Band, but with a much lighter character than we're accustomed to and that emphasises the upper registers.
Back with his Roxy Music bandmates and with some impressive star guests (Nile Rogers, Johnny Greenwood, Dave Gilmour), Ferry delivers his first new material since 1994, alongside the usual covers. An OTT version of Tim Buckley's Song to the Siren disappoints, though the louche, smoky closer, Tender Is the Night is almost vintage Ferry standard.
Boyle's mezzo-soprano talents are put to predictable, seasonal use here, but however stirring you find her version of Auld Lang Syne, you have to get through some baffling covers - Lou Reed, Crowded House - to get there, raising the question as to whom this is for.