Personnel: Johannes Mayer (vocals, guitar); Henrik Roger (piano); Patric Thorman (Mellotron); Lars Plogschties (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Karsten Böttcher.
Recording information: Kremlstudion, Stockholm; Studio Nord, Bremen.
Golden is the fourth album by German-born, Stockholm-based singer/songwriter Johannes Mayer, who flies under the banner of the Late Call. Since his 2009 debut Leaving Notes, Mayer has trodden a well-worn path as an acoustic troubadour with a pleasing, dusty voice and world-weary songs of gentle introspection. Often unassuming at first, his music tends to grow richer with each listen, revealing some quality songcraft lurking behind his familiar style. Prior to this release, his productions have generally been pretty low-key affairs with brushed drums, double bass, and minor embellishments supporting his fingerpicked guitar parts. For Golden, Mayer put together a full backing band and recorded most of the parts live, resulting in a lush blend that recalls John Martyn's '70s folk-rock mixed with bits of early Coldplay and Elbow. While not a major departure from his earlier work, it is definitely the first Late Call record with pop ambitions, and it's a sound that suits him well. Standouts like the uplifting opener "Carry" and the strident, melodic gem "White Moon" display an ease and confidence that were hinted at on previous albums but feel fully realized here. Mayer's world feels relaxed and lived-in and it's easy to find comfort in the warm glow of tracks like "Ghost World," "Pickpocket," and the breezy, footloose title cut. Things slow down a bit on the album's second half with a set of more subdued acoustic songs that perhaps hinder the otherwise easy pace, but overall, Golden is a strong and heartfelt collection that feels light on the surface, but shows its depth when decanted. ~ Timothy Monger