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James Blackshaw, ‘The Glass Bead Game’ (Young God)

Ever since this twentysomething Londoner burst onto the insular and puritanical steel-string guitar scene, he’s been releasing albums at an annual pace. But for his eighth record, Blackshaw moves beyond those confines, melding his mesmeric, masterful technique with cello and violin contributions from members of experimental folk group Current 93 and setting the wordless vocals of Trembling Bells’ Lavinia Blackwall to the driving, haunting opener “Cross.” Then, at the piano bench for the poignant ballad “Fix” and the stunning, assured finale “Arc,” Blackshaw makes you forget all about his guitar and your earthly cares.

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Tags: Albums