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Album reviews: Bellowhead | Bat For Lashes | Jazz | Classical

OUR music critics review the rest of this week’s longplayer releases

FOLK

Bellowhead

Broadside

Proper, £12.99

Star rating: * * *

The folk wheel is not easily re-invented, but this is a roadworthy effort deserving a spin – English folk music that’s robust and rollicking the way it used to be, from a mighty 11-piece big band. Standard tunes such as Old Dun Cow are uplifted by a furious brass part and punk-style choruses. Roll The Woodpile Down is a closing-time rallying cry, while Black Beetle Pies is just as mad as it sounds.

Thousands Or More is more the finger in the ear style of shanty, with lyrics loosely borrowed from The Wild Rover.

CS

Download this: Old Dun Cow, Roll The Woodpile Down

POP

Bat For Lashes

The Haunted Man

Parlophone, £10.99

Star rating: * * *

Natasha Khan has said she found this third album her most difficult to date, yet it sounds relaxed and confident.

Lead single Laura sees her punching above her weight with an uncomplicated, direct pop tune. The Kate Bush dreaminess of Oh Yeah is all well and good, but adds more murkiness than mystery. Winter Fields delves deeper into that Oliver Postgate English mysticism, and may yet appear as a hipster alternative Christmas hit.

I am sure Khan must cast an envious glance at the unstoppable rise of Florence Welch and her marketing machine, but there is little to choose between them.

CS

Download this: Laura, Marilyn

JAZZ

Diana Krall

Glad Rag Doll

Verve 602537101092, £12.99

Star rating: * * * * *

The Grammy Award-winning Canadian singer and pianist changes direction dramatically with this new album, her first with the producer T-Bone Burnett. Rooted in jazz, but blurring the boundaries between various genres, it comprises mainly forgotten pop songs from the 1920s – but with a sprinkling of later tunes, notably the raunchy rock’n’roll number I’m A Little Mixed Up and the country ballad Wide River To Cross – and showcases her sensual vocals in an occasionally very intimate setting (the exquisite title number is just Krall and Marc Ribot on guitar).

Jazz fans will love the laid-back treatment of many of the numbers in the first half of the CD, but there’s something for everyone.

Alison Kerr

Download this: We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye, Just Like A Butterfly That’s Caught In The Rain

CLASSICAL

Garth Knox

Saltarello

ECM 476 4501, £13.99

Star rating: * * * * *

Almost 1,000 years of music are represented in this CD of music for fiddle, viola, viola d’amore and cello, with surprises at every turn and much to enjoy.

The album title comes from the “jump” that features as music moves from one phrase to the next, particularly evident in three 14th-century dances arranged by Garth Knox for fiddle and percussion.

Knox is the principal performer, aided by Agnès Vesterman on cello and Sylvain Lemêtre on percussion. All perform every work with flair and obvious enjoyment.

Well-known composers – Vivaldi, Purcell, Von Bingen and Dowland – provide the historical context, with contemporary works by the late Johnny Cunningham, Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and Knox’s own compositions and arrangements completing the recording.

If the older works are more immediately enjoyable, the modern music is no less attractive.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Black Brittany

 

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