What can I say I about this new Inti Rowland track, but that it’s one of the best songs I’ve heard this year? I was stunned when I first heard it. It takes only a few seconds into “Masks of Winter”, right when the strings and the guitar rhythm kicks in to hear what makes it so pretty. It reminded me of some of the more sedate and seductive Belle and Sebastian tracks, but for the lush, teeming strings that build into a full-on chorus at the end of the track. Yes, there are touches of Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan, as the promo copy suggests, with hints of The Low Anthem and the more luscious vocal harmonizing of Mutual Benefit. The arrangement of “Masks of Winter” is marvelous — textures are ornate, refined and complex as might befit an artist with years of experience — or in this case a musician with a few friends accenting a record with cello, violin, dulcimer, fluglehorn and cornet. “Masks of Winter” is a single off the artist’s upcoming release, 17th Century Japanese Aviary, out April 13th. It was recorded in six days in a converted chapel in the Scottish Highlands. You can listen to a second track, the solemn “Mongolian Hunters” at bandcamp. This record is Rowland’s third release, following Eyes Of A Starling EP (2012) and The Ballad Of The Ballroom Ghost EP (2011). Follow Inti Rowland at facebook and twitter. — David D. Robbins Jr.