The rest of the week’s new releases reviewed...
Rufus Wainwright - Out Of The Game ***
Rufus Wainwright and Mark Ronson seem like a strange pairing, and so it transpires on Wainwright’s sixth solo album, which is lovely without reaching the luscious heights of earlier work. He sounds awkward and exposed on the title track and elsewhere, as the arrangements embrace more conventional rock and pop instrumentation. Respectable Dive, even with its recycling of the “don’t bore us just get to the chorus” cliché, comes off best in this collection. With guest appearances from Nels Clime of Wilco and Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner, it is all a bit tame, if not lame, quality pop music.
Download this: Barbara
The Dandy Warhols - This Machine **
The End Records, (import)
Strangely self-conscious in the manner of anything that outstays its welcome, the Portland band are borderline apologetic for not producing anything to match Bohemian Like You 15 years ago. Alternative Power To The People is gibberish, and the revisiting of Sixteen Tons will have Tennessee Ernie Ford spinning in his grave. Courtney Taylor-Taylor must have regretted his New Romantic moment being produced by Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes ten years ago, but this is more disappointing. It is a shame that such counter culture savvy should fizzle out like this.
Download this: I Am Free
Andy Aitchison Quartet - You Ain’t Never ***
lejazzetal LJCD12, (via internet only)
A line-up of two guitars and bass fronted by violin would ordinarily suggest a Hot Club Of France style band, but Andy Aitchison’s Quartet takes its inspiration from the small American swing combos of the late 1930s, notably the Benny Goodman Sextet featuring guitarist Charlie Christian. The result is a very pleasing, if unremarkable, album which introduces Aitchison’s lyrical violin style in a laid-back setting – and shows that Grappelli and Reinhardt aren’t the only influences worth absorbing and applying to the violin/guitar format.
Download this: You Ain’t Never
Ludovico Einaudi - The Calm Of Einaudi ****
Attuned Heart AHR001, £9.99
The Turin-born composer Ludovico Einaudi has written music for ballet, films and TV, and has taken up performing, but this album focuses on his works for piano, performed by Christine Rayner. This is a labour of love, with the album stemming from Rayner’s deep appreciation of the work, connected to performances she began giving of Einaudi’s work to mark her recovery from breast cancer (the proceeds from the CD assist cancer charities and research).
Einaudi’s work flows easily, creating waves of sound, of varying intensity, but carrying the music forward. There are no overtly dogmatic themes here that build and recur, but instead a persistence of music that holds in the mind, instilling a sense of calm. It’s a highly worthwhile, personal album, of works by a composer who deserves an audience.
Download this: Le Onde
Brooks Williams and Boo Hewerdine - State Of The Union ****
Reveal, REVEAL005CDX, £10.99
This mid-Atlantic acoustic fusion is an unhurried and highly skilled twin guitar underscoring of old, trad and new songs, by two master performers who have discovered a great ear for each other’s music. Williams shows off his chops, including his slide playing, in his warm-hearted, understated manner, while Hewerdine matches the rhythmic acuity, beat for beat. The quality singing moves from reworked blues to ragtime and ageless popular music with Williams often so relaxed in his vocal phrasing, you wonder at his sense of time.
Download this: Pig And Awl