The best of the new album releases.
Linden: Bleached Highlights
AED Records, £12.99
“TAKE my hand and welcome me back home, I’m always gonna be around” sings Joe McAlinden on his first album in almost 20 years.
The former BMX Bandit, Boy Hairdresser and Superstar mainman has returned from self-imposed exile in rural Argyll with what he describes as an “upbeat album about loss”, largely inspired by the death of his father ten years ago. There is a lot of (self?) comforting familiarity on Bleached Highlights.
McAlinden’s pure pop voice has not aged; neither has his effortless way with a bittersweet tune. Sometimes the listening is a bit too easy, but the moody minor-key Written, with its atmospheric organ and 1970s torch ballad feel, and the late Beach Boys vibe of Hideaway are beautifully assured.
Kyla La Grange: Ashes
WATFORD-BASED singer/songwriter Kyla La Grange gives a good account of herself on this debut album. Her voice is big and husky which, when combined with the earthy, roots-influenced music, makes for that almost pagan catharsis you sometimes get from Florence Welch and Bat For Lashes. Being a major-label charm offensive, there is still some bland bluster which needs to be filtered out – Woke Up Dead works itself up into an empty frenzy – but La Grange successfully slips her tether on the yearning ballad To Be Torn, utilises the higher end of her range and spreads her wings.
Call The Doctor: Hands Will Shake
Glasstone Records, £10.99
BRISTOL four-piece Call The Doctor are named after a Sleater-Kinney album which is as good a route as any into their dynamic femme pop. Although New Zealand-born frontwoman Patti Aberhart does not rage particularly hard, there is an edge to her delivery that livens up even the most unruffled number on this varied debut album. Hands Will Shake navigates the spiky (Seventeen), the smooth (Follow Her Ribbons) and a seamless combination of the two (Flaws) with a fluency which suggests that those British Yeah Yeah Yeahs comparisons are really not so wide of the mark.
Insomnia: A Nocturnal Voyage In Song
DEVISED as a programme for the Lucerne Festival, Baritone William Berger’s Insomnia: A Nocturnal Voyage in Song plays out its chronological narrative – songs depicting specific hours of a sleepless night – with logical and psychological inevitability. This pleasant insomniac experience kicks off at a notional 7.30pm with Mozart’s dusky Abendempfindung, goes all twilight with Debussy’s Nuit d’étoiles and Fauré’s Claire de lune, hits the midnight hour with Wolf’s reflective Um Mitternacht, beyond which the all-night Lieder journey leads all the way to Strauss’s delicious Morgen. Berger sustains a magnetic affection throughout the varied sequence, aided by Iain Burnside’s deft pianism. There are even a couple of built-in encores.
Keith Jarrett: Sleeper
ECM Records, £24.99
Pianist Keith Jarrett’s European-based quartet of the 1970s – with saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Jon Christensen – has long been regarded as one of the outstanding combinations in Jarrett’s prolific five decades in jazz. It is a band that works off intuitive interaction and an imaginative re-shaping of a diverse range of influences. Like Personal Mountains, recorded the following night and first released in 1989, this previously unreleased 2-CD set is drawn from a concert in Tokyo in April, 1979. The set-list duplicates four of the tunes on the earlier release, but in superior versions, and adds three more, So Tender, Chant of the Soil and a dazzling New Dance. The quartet only recorded two studio albums, Belonging and My Song, but both are widely regarded as classics, and this well-recorded material is a welcome and still hugely enjoyable addition to their discography.
Nuala Kennedy: Noble Stranger
COMPASS RECORDS, £12.99
NUALA Kennedy is a fine flautist with a beguilingly delicate voice. Here she performs traditional and self-composed material in the able company of her regular band members – Iain Macleod on mandolin, guitarist Mike Bryan and drummer Donald Hay – with guest bassists Euan Burton and Mario Caribe. These are very contemporary and at times unremittingly uptempo arrangements, often with engaging instrumental textures, although an old Casio keyboard is deployed to excess at times, its blips and bleeps doing her fine singing of My Bonny Labouring Boy no favours.
Elsewhere Hay and company whip up a take-no-prisoners attack for the ballad Lord Duneagle, which certainly generates a sense of inexorable drama, and there’s an easy catchiness to her own song Lonely City, with AJ Roach providing a ghostly, off-stage vocal harmony. Instrumental highlights include Asturias, named after the Spanish piping territory, with flute and MacLeod’s mandolin locked in an exhilarating spin.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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