Album reviews: James Yorkston | Spector | Dead Can Dance | Kathleen Ferrier
We review the latest album releases.
I Was A Cat From A Book
Arriving like an Indian summer, Yorkston’s fifth album shimmers like the low sun through the trees at the end of the day.
It is far from perfect but reeks of authentic British folk music like a wood fire rather than a gas barbecue.
Two years ago his young daughter was seriously ill, and that clearly had a profound effect on his world view. The Fire & The Flames lays it out in stark relief, talking of wounded starlings over wheezing strings, the melody lodging in the back of the skull. I Was A Cat From A Book is frequently a stormy record, with Yorkston even doing a frenetic ceilidh pace on I Can Take All This, which stands for no nonsense whatsoever. It represents one of the record’s twin energy peaks with Border Song, all turbocharged fiddling and the whiff of Al Stewart’s more energetic efforts.
Contrast that with the enchanting Kath With Rhodes, featuring the vocals of Kathryn Williams, weaving in and out of Yorkston’s like a cat working through and round the legs. A guest vocal appearance from Sparrow and the Workshop’s Jill O’Sullivan on Just As Scared is also an utter delight.
This album is a warm and fuzzy sensation, despite the ever-present backdrop of melancholy which only serves to anchor these songs.
Download this: Just As Scared, Border Song
Enjoy It While It Lasts
A triumph, but only of style over substance, as the London five-piece try to lay down a marker with their debut album.
Vocal inflections suggest Brandon Flowers and The Killers – especially Chevy Thunder – but the end result and overall effect is of a compilation of Eighties one-hit wonders.
Songs such as Upset Boulevard and Friday Night, Don’t Ever Let It End make like the past two decades never happened, and No Adventure could be Ricky Wilson on a busman’s holiday from Kaiser Chiefs.
This is coalition pop music, beset by compromise and far from certain about the course it should be taking. Heading back to the drawing board might be for the best.
Download this: True Love (For Now)
Dead Can Dance
With the heavy portentous male vocal and pseudo-spiritual lyrics, the Australian duo proudly bear the cross of Jim Morrison, although the music never approaches the Ray Manzarek splendour.
Children Of The Sun emerges from an early Seventies time capsule, Anabasis has the aura of wafting from the Casbah, courtesy of Lisa Gerrard’s ethereal vocal.
Opium floats on a bed of syncopated percussion, breaking the somnambulant pattern of the record’s lengthier pieces.
Lyrics talking of “wanting to live far from the metropolis” are clearly trying hard to drift into the mystic, when staying focused in the here and now is a more worthwhile challenge.
Download this: All In Good Time, Kiko
Oscar Peterson Trio
Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series Volume 30
TCB TCB02302, £12.99
Recorded in Zurich in 1960 by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, this terrific set by the Oscar Peterson Trio complements the recently released one by the Stan Getz Quartet as it was part of the same Jazz at the Philharmonic concert. The freewheeling pianist Peterson, like Getz, was at the peak of his powers, and it’s a thrill to hear him, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen in action – though there are only seven tracks.
Download this: Jordu, Cubano Chant
Scots In The Spanish Civil War – No Pasaran!
Greentrax CDTRAX3639, £11.99
The precursor to the Second World War, the bloody struggle of socialists, anarchists and communists against Franco’s fascists for control of Spain ultimately failed, but resonates still, as this compilation of songs and one poem, born of the struggle, defiantly attests. Scots responded by joining the international brigades to fight and die in the conflict, and are commemorated here in 15 tracks (by Dick Gaughan, Geordie McIntyre and Alison McMorland, The McCalmans, Eileen Penman, among many others) pulled together from various sources or newly recorded. The Scots’ egalitarian democratic intellect is the unifying sentiment and – if musically uneven, moving from simplistic to subtle, pompous or passionate – it radiantly delivers an eternal human message.
Download this: Graves In Spain
Decca 478 3589, £54.99
English soprano Kathleen Ferrier is perhaps best known today from radio broadcasts of the aria Che Faro Senza Euridice from Gluck’s opera and songs such as Blow The Wind Southerly, but she sang contemporary works by Britten as much as baroque works by Bach or Handel.
This 14-CD box set features every Decca recording made by her, digitally remastered, plus a bonus DVD film drawing on her letters and diary. She made all her recordings over a six-year period before her early death: this is a remarkably fitting commemoration of a truly talented singer.
Download this: Handel, Return, O God Of Hosts!
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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