Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week’s CD releases.

Jon Anderson,”Animation” (Esoteric / Cherry Red)- This musically ambitious offering was captured for posterity during one of Yes frontman Jon Anderson’s temporary breaks from his group activities in the early eighties, and found the former Accrington milkman joining forces with rock luminaries such as Greenslade’s Dave Lawson and legendary bassist Jack Bruce as he assembled a package which reflected his then current preoccupations.with the delights of electro-pop and new age music. Anderson’s distinctive alto tenor vocals and instantly idenitifiable approach to the art of lyric writing have always set him apart from many of his contemporaries in the prog rock field, and “Animation” must rank as one of his most accomplished solo efforts to date.

Stripmall Ballads,”Distant” (Self Released)- Sparse,understated balladry is the order of the day as Phillips Saylor Wisor unveils the latest album released via his alter ego of Stripmall Ballads. Treading a path once followed by the likes of Cisco Houston and Woody Guthrie, Wilsor chronicles the flipside of the much vaunted “American Dream” as he peoples his deeply affecting creations with a parade of doomed characters whose fate seemed to have been determined long before they reached adulthood. “Susan at the Crossroads,” “Pull Over Johnny” and “Don’t Mind Me” are the best of an excellent bunch.

“Evangeline Gentle” (Sonic Unyon Records)- The vast majority of the gifted young singer-songwriters that I come across these days seem to hail from the other side of the Atlantic,but Evangeline Gentle represents a welcome,albeit partial exception to the rule.This sweetly expressive performer was born in Peterhead on the Northeast coast of Scotland but relocated to Canada as a child, where her creative musings finally found a receptive audience after years of uncertainty and self doubt. Gentle’s eagerly anticipated debut set was three years in the making as she worked with producer Jim Bryson to put together a roots music package of rare depth,subtlety and charm. “Sundays,” Neither of Us” and “Good and Guided” capture Evangeline at her brilliant best.