Volta - 2004 - 43 minutes

If you were to take the line John Cowhie - aka Goodtime John - sings on 'By the Shelf It Sits On' and "always judge a book by its cover", then his sleeve art of a polar bear on the receiving end of the law of the wild from a pack of wolves would suggest the songs inside are tough and icy. Anything but. This is a record that Cowhie wants people to listen to "in the light", a gentle and intimate collection that shines with simplicity.

The pacing takes getting used to - there's no rush on anyone or thing here - but this is an album that turns up charm on the slowburn and means more for it. And when Goodtime lives up to his name and brings 'By the Shelf...' from a slow opening to a beautifully upbeat finale, you'll feel that while he's edging ever closer to his own kind of hush, he should explore this other treasure trail more in the future. There'll be plenty of travelling companions if he does.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Enter the Sea - Mountains Are Awake - Dust Blows Like Sand - Arrows - By the Shelf It Sits On - We Are Nothing - As I Submerge - Under This Sun