Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool, album review

Calm Enjoyment

More impression than a review, there are informed commentaries out there: knowing references to songs that are 'relics' from the past - refreshed/regurgitated for this album - and detailed interpretations of the lyrics.

This is largely a calm and calming orchestral sweep of sound, Thom Yorke's vocal full-frontal, with penultimate Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor an embracing example of this sweetness merged with digital crackling, as if the latter reminds this is modern electronica and not chamber pop.

The album opens with an apparently 'old' song Burn the Witch, all 'Psycho' strings slashing, and ends on the piano tinkled and lovelorn True Love Waits, another oldie by all accounts.

I enjoy listening.

Into the Distance Music 34

The leader of the themed album covers postings, as far as the eyes can see....

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Far-Out Fernando Viciconte

Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones - The Phoenix, Exeter, 23rd May, 2016

Talent Pool

The video below captures much of the musicality and tone of last night's gig at The Phoenix: the Everly's echo in this song and much else that these two sing so brilliantly together from their album Little Windows, and the upbeat tone embraced in the comic storytelling in the video - like the fun that was being had last night on stage, by all.

A fine band supported Sunny Ozell, Teddy solo and then with Kelly, though she played two of her own beautiful songs solo, the first about Judee Sill which was beautiful, and was beautifully sung.

Thompson also performed a selection of his own songs solo, as well as with Kelly like I Wish It Was Over, and this was an additional treat on a night of absolute talent being showcased, which included Teddy's nephew Zak Hobbs on fine guitar duties. As I implied already [and in previous post], the band was tight and I am still researching for the names [hard to retain all from one night...] but the bass playing on I Wish... was wonderful. Thompson's vocal was as perfect as ever.

Sunny Ozell - The Phoenix, Exeter, 23rd May, 2016

Supporting Star

On a night of pure talent from start to finish, Sunny Ozell's support slot for Teddy Thompson and Kelly Jones showcased her singing strength as well as performance ease with the night's fine backing band. This Raitt song isn't on her new album Take It With Me, which I will be reviewing, but it is a good example of her confident range, last night's offering arcing across jazz and, like this, the blues, and including her 'country' single Git Gone though it would be quite wrong to narrow her to a Country tag as she is so evidently more, and comfortably so on last night's assured presentation.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Lady Stewart - Phoenix, Exeter, 23rd May, 2016

Seeing longtime favourite Teddy Thompson with Kelly Jones tonight at The Phoenix, with support from Sunny Ozell, who I don't/didn't know, and it turns out [as well as a fine singer-songwriter I am sure] she is married to Patrick Stewart.

There's a surprise.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Her Majesty – Déjà vu – A Tribute to CSNY

Déjà vu why

I don't tend to write negative reviews, so I'm not of this, and I confess I haven't listened, but am sure it is a fine tribute authentically performed, yet for an album like this, just listen to the original! I like tribute albums where a variety of an artist's work is covered by a variety of artists, but this seems wholly superfluous. There is perhaps an implicit joke in the album title and this others' recall, but....

Friday, 20 May 2016

Incredible Hog - Volume 1 [1973]

Morning Trawl

In my eclectic listenings I had a brief trawl this morning through a perhaps surprising trio - Marissa Nadler's new Strangers, which I read was good but found too familiar to be engaging; Richard Ashcroft's latest These People, which was what one might expect and I found all the more insipid for that; and then, because why not, Stacey Solomon's Shy, and you know, of these three, this 'reality' star had perhaps the best vocal and production, but of course it is entirely generic and too much pastiche, like the Winehouse-esque Breath Away - so I turned to a proper one, a power trio formed in 1972 and this their only album. Great too. Just the perfect reflection of its heavy rock of the time, like powerhouse opener Lame, and then the melodic and harmony full Walk the Road providing the correct electic mix for a morning call. Listening to the blues riffed There's a Man pumping away as I type: classic stuff.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Lou Doillon - Lay Low, album review

Hushed Prominence

This second album confirms the promise of her debut, reviewed here, and as seen on Tuesday's Later…with Jools show, Lou Doillon delivers that sultry and low, occasionally raspy vocal live with plenty of atmospheric verve, backed by a pulsing band, especially on the title track where the live guitar-work adds a psychedelic edge [not realised on the studio track].

A more acoustic number like Weekender Baby showcases the drawl she attaches to her otherwise unadorned but nonetheless affecting vocal, less the speaksinging I called it on her first, but still a voice that tells the narrative with a natural warble for finesse. Let Me Go is similarly stripped back to voice over instrumentation, the latter more in the rhythm and beat, here a Roy Orbison echo that provides a crescendo for the song. Indeed, many of the songs – all running between two and three minutes long, all eleven adding up to a brisk 35 minutes of album time – have elements of languid rock’n’roll.

But it is the vocal and its prominence that appeals the most, as it should. It seems an amalgam of an Antony and Devendra and Joan Wasser, all of these connected, I know, but I am sure not necessarily so for Doillon as intentional influence. But this is what I hear. The track Robin Miller breaks this pattern somewhat, a song washed with atmospherics as ambient sound and a hushed singing that still permeates as the focus. These are not pop songs, not songs that are propelled on melodic lines, but rather slowed and reflective storytellings of love and loss, closer So Still starting in its soft considerings until, again, a crescendo of atmospheric noise, layered with violin here, transports us beyond. 

...and she loves a chili dog!


This really is very good. It is this kind of live presentation that proves the worth of a band - beyond the studio's technical abilities - and the singing and playing and songwriting skills here are evident, convincing and importantly, most pleasing!

Gregory Porter - Take Me To The Alley, album review

Wonderful Rise and Fall

I have struggled with this album. Struggled at first to hear it as memorable as his previous Liquid Spirit – expecting and knowing it would be good, even very good, but having the highest expectations – and then listening more and more [this in itself an indication of considerable appeal as I rarely revisit these days] I have struggled to think of superlatives in describing without resorting to simple cliché or simple enthusiasm.

This initial reservation is probably because of the whole album’s easy accessibility, the collection of mainstream and pop and soul jazz, all consummately calm and pleasant and brilliantly orchestrated and sung. Again, all the least I would expect, this aroused by my consistent liking for Porter from his first Water in 2010 [reviewed here] to seeing him so recently live in Bristol.

Opener Holding On sets a template for later tracks that clinched the deal for me, the deal to regard this as an outstanding album. Its staccato piano chords and walking bass reflect a pattern of rise and fall throughout so many tracks that take Porter’s vocal through its effortless range, but especially lower which has a hypnotic impact. A fine song in its own right, and some reviewers have regarded this and the next two to three as its core strength [a ‘top heavy’ observation in the allaboutjazz excellent review], I favour later tracks. The most upbeat on the album, second Don’t Lose Your Steam continues to be haunted for this listener by its repeated tandem address young man because, ridiculously and annoyingly, I keep hearing the Harry Enfield catchphrase quip from The Lovely Wobbly Randy Old Ladies Ooh! Young man! I don’t imagine Porter will be aware….

The title song is the third track, and as I said in my review of his Bristol gig, I was pleased to hear it live and experience something of its gentleness as an emotive encounter, and on the album Alicia Olatuja accompanies beautifully, Porter’s bass notes taking some command now, Keyon Harold on late-night trumpet serenade.

The album hits its stride with fifth Consequence of Love, dominant if simple opening piano chords and walking bass again, the melody line rising up and down until hitting a mild funk beat and Ondrrej Pivec on distant organ. It is so simple and effective. Next In Fashion grips tighter, a staccato piano striking setting the rhythm before that breaks into a little descending sweet succession of notes, Porter’s vocal climbing from low in the opposite direction and then plaining on a cuddly scat, it that isn’t too much of a paradox. Seventh More Than a Woman glides up and down to rest deep in the title line more than a woman, resonating there, and a gorgeous tribute to Porter’s late mother, gave love life, and religious references given a deep metaphoric meaning in this genuine eulogy whereas lyrically Porter can occasionally come across as twee if always earnest.

Ninth Insanity is a lovelorn ballad moving through that range with Harold serenading again, Aaron James superb on bass, and Porter reverberating his bass vocals to passionate effect. Tenth Don’t Be a Fool is a gospel tune, Pivec in background again but authentically layering a spiritual organ, Porter and Olatuja combining so sweetly on listen to these charms, baby I’m not fooling, and fall into these open arms of love: quite sublime. Penultimate Fan the Flames reminds that upbeat does exist on this album and the band getting a work-out as well as Porter delivering some ‘proper’ scatting, but it is the serene rise and fall that exudes throughout the whole, if slowly over listens, its warmest embrace.

[Top picture is of the signed card received when having pre-ordered the cd; there is now a deluxe edition with further mixes, and it does extend the excellence]