Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. Today we’re checking out the latest release from the historic Rough Trade Records – Josienne Clark and Ben Walker’s ‘Seedlings All’
Having released their debut record back in 2012, Josienne Clark and Ben Walker have been putting out albums at a pretty decent rate ever since then – ‘Seedlings All’ marks their sixth album in as many years. It’s a careworn collection of heart-on-sleeve ballads set to a subtle, shifting backdrop of pianos, softly shuffling drums and muted, whispering guitars. In many ways, the album feels like a series of private reveries and musings, one executed with such a personal touch that it almost feels like an intrusion to listen in on the album’s various songs.
This is a well pressed, solid slab of wax; the edges are smoothly cut and although not a full 180g, it’s still a thick enough disc that it feels decently weighty in hand. The pressing is by and large very quiet – the noise floor is pretty much non-existent here and the only interruption we had on the whole of the album was a touch of very faint surface noise in the background at points. One issue we did have was with a small scuff mark present from new at the start of side two, which caused ticking for roughly the first thirty seconds of playback. While that is a small irritation, it doesn’t last long enough to fully mar enjoyment of the song and the rest of the album plays back very well. The album itself actually sounds really good. It’s a sensitively layered and arranged recording; instrument separation and clarity is excellent on this pressing so, from that perspective, it’s an easy recommendation. In addition to the record itself, a CD EP in a slim card sleeve is included, containing three songs not found on the main album. Though there would, arguably, have been enough space to include the tracks on the LP itself (there is a fair amount of dead wax on side two), it’s a welcome inclusion nonetheless.
Packaging and presentation here is slick and attractive; the sleeve is a nicely made non-gatefold design and, although it’s constructed from roughly average-weight card, it does boast a pleasing texturing effect which adds an extra dimension to the experience when handled. The record itself is slipped inside a lightweight card printed inner sleeve which bears lyrics to the whole album, as well as further artwork in-keeping with the front cover’s aesthetic. It’s certainly a worthwhile addition to the overall package but as per usual with such sleeves, it will likely cause some light abrasion marks to the record surface if used long-term, so we would always recommend storing the record in a polylined inner sleeve for general use. Also included is a download code for the album (redeemable in MP3) and the aforementioned CD EP, which is presented in a simple but attractive card sleeve – which is certainly more than can be said for most CDs which we’ve found included with records. Such bonus CDs are usually sleeved in nothing more than a generic paper slip – so bonus points for a full-colour cardboard sleeve.
By and large, this is a really solid release throughout. The short stretch of light ticks mentioned earlier notwithstanding, the record plays excellently throughout and the album’s subtle acoustics are a comfortable fit for the vinyl format. Packaging and presentation is good quality across the board and, all in all, we would certainly recommend this as a worthwhile release to look into, for those bewitched by the spell of modern alt folk.