One of Creation Records’ central figures, Joe McAlinden wastes little time getting to the point on this comeback album, a beautifully crafted collection of sunshine pop. Clocking in at just over the half hour, this is all about the quality not the quantity.
A former member of The Boy Hairdressers, a peripheral Teenage Fanclubber and founder of Superstar, McAlinden here delivers ten scintillating songs to put a smile on the most cynical face. His breathy delivery adds to the delicate charm, with keyboards dominant and guitars incidental.
At the core is Written, on which the counter-melody is picked out on electric piano like a Beatles-inspired pastoral delight, but there are several such highlights. The shortest and sweetest is If I Had Wings, a song blessed with nursery rhyme simplicity and a chorus which keeps stretching higher and higher. It also manages to fit in a tasty guitar middle eight, despite the entire song clocking in at under two-and-a-half minutes.
Joe’s voice glides through its upper register without so much as a creak, and the closing Hideaway compares favourably with the best moments on the Beach Boys’ album Holland. Bleached Highlights is something of a beacon at the end of a dark dismal summer, and you have to hope that McAlinden does not feel the need to take so much time out from the music business again.
Download this: If I Had Wings, Written
Antony & The Johnsons
Cut The World
Rough Trade, £12.99
Antony Hegarty and The Danish National Chamber Orchestra? This live album is a musical marriage made in heaven for devotees of Hegarty’s mannered vocal stylings. Future Feminism is brutally honest and slightly barking mad, and not as effective in this context as the mighty title song.
Cut The World is the one completely new track on the record and comes with no baggage, unlike the rest of the collection. It is the most impressive thing here, and not because of the overly tasteful woodwind. In the spoken word section he sounds as if he is from Bearsden not Chichester, and is slightly unnatural.
Download this: Cut The World, Future Feminism, Kiss My Name
From The Roots Up
The versatile Miss Paloma Ayana, aka Delilah, has a seductive, sweet and powerful voice, as evidenced by her total overhaul of Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody, which is retitled Go. Over shimmering electronic intro, she puts a thrilling new spin on the 1980s dancefloor warhorse.
Her vocal style owes something to an urban Sinead O’Connor, but essentially it is her solid soul voice that carries this record through various styles. Really rather good.
Download this: I Can Feel You, Go, So Irate
In The Moonlight
eOne Music 233541, £12.99
Milman is a Russian-born, Israeli-raised and Toronto-based singer with a rich, luscious voice who sounds as if she has been around much longer than her twenty-something years, and who has a particular love of great lyrics. On this, her fourth album, she sings 14 love songs which were selected especially for the greatness of their lyrics. Several of these are given the full romantic treatment, with strings arranged by the great Alan Broadbent.
Download this: Do It Again, Detour Ahead
A Breath Of Fresh Airs
Greentrax CDTRAX001, £11.99
In 1986, this was Greentrax’ first album release – on vinyl – and it is released now on CD (plus a bonus track) to celebrate the Scots record company’s 25 years of business. The fiddler, from Jock Tamson’s Bairns and The Occasionals dance band, released this collection of self-penned new airs and dance tunes in the old Scots traditions and added his own viola, acoustic bass, small pipes, plus piano from Iain MacFadyen, guitarist Jack Evans, small harp from Patsy Seddon and John Croall on bodhran. Very well played, straightforward, modest and honest in its approach, this music doesn’t date and remains as vibrant and fresh as when it was played in the studio.
Download this: The Late White Swan
Champs Hill CHRCD025, £10.99
Music for the oboe often emphasises long, bucolic phrases, but the three works featured here show it as an instrument able to evoke drama and action. Paul Patterson’s 2009 Phoenix Concerto, played with élan by Emily Pailthorpe under Benjamin Wallfisch and the English Chamber Orchestra, depicts a bird that is wild and courageous, a true oriental fire-spirit. Ralph Vaughan Williams’ concerto from 1944 has unsettled undertones, perhaps reflecting its wartime origins. Herbert Howell’s Concerto of two years before, which remained unperformed until after his death, proves a sturdy and imaginative work, well worth hearing.
Download this: Track 5, Vaughan Williams Oboe Concerto, Minuet And Musette
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West