MUSIC REVIEW: City - Stuart McCallum, City, Naim Audio - Out Now

Manchester guitarist Stuart McCallum.
Manchester guitarist Stuart McCallum.
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The sound of skyscrapers, office blocks and street lights at night

Oscar-winning actor Michael Caine summed up the cult 1964 spy movie The Ipcress File in which he starred with one word - “ambience”.

It’s also a fitting description for Manchester guitarist and composer Stuart McCallum’s fourth album City featuring Sharlene Hector of Basement Jaxx on the third track, North Star.

The album opens with a dance and soul cocktail in title track City, followed by the ultra-cool Inhale which whisks the listener back to the days of Bob James, George Benson and Quincy Jones.

Other highlights include the electro-acoustic T-Onics, mysterious and eerie Effergy, Trio Seven and Mk II with its nod to US TV cop shows like The Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues and Law and Order.

City ends with the seductive Debbie Harry-sounding vocals of Sophie Barker, best known for her work with Zero 7 on Destiny which has been used regularly as TV incidental music.

In an interview with freelance writer Malcolm Wyatt last year, McCallum described his music as “instrumental music with improvisations, so I guess that’s jazz - but more acoustic”.

City could turn out to be a career-defining album for Stuart McCallum.

Review by Winston Brown