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Album reviews: Noah & The Whale | Ghostpoet | Alison Moyet

Noah and the Whale

Noah and the Whale

The latest album releases reviewed by The Scotsman music critics

POP

Noah & The Whale

Heart Of Nowhere

Mercury, £14.99

Star rating: * * *

With pleasant, poppy noodlings like these, Charlie Fink runs the risk of being better known for former members of his band than the music that he makes. Laura Marling quit when her solo career took off, subsequently eclipsing the mothership. She continues to do so, despite Fink’s best efforts. The Marling-shaped hole is partially plugged here by a guest appearance from Anna Colvi on the title track, but a flurry of busy strings flatters to deceive.There are clearly aspirations to be a darker Arcade Fire, but this is more like Crowded House in their younger days, or perhaps Ryan Adams in reflective mode. Student bedsits will be all the richer for it, but it feels depressingly complacent.

Silver And Gold chugs along without ever really revving up, but remains cute and cranky. Elsewhere Fink appears overly fixated with time – Still After All These Years, There Will Come A Time or, indeed, Now Is The Time all tend to lack a sense of urgency. Noah’s time is yet to come, as the Springsteen tinged Not Too Late suggests somewhat prophetically, on an album that contains no innovation to speak of but no feeble imitations either.

Colin Somerville

Download this: Not Too Late

Ghostpoet

Some Say I So I Say Light

Play It Again Sam, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

Like a pirate radio transmission from the

British underground, Obaro Ejimiwe boasts all the

Tricky touches but goes well beyond mumbling trip hop. His moody meditations

pulse through this album,

an early highlight being the strident Dial Tone featuring Lucy Rose; they then come

to a natural climax at the midpoint with Meltdown, featuring Woodpecker Wooliams, before gliding though the tasty Dorsal Morsel.

One of Britain’s most exciting new voices, Ghostpoet soundtracks the dreams you haven’t had yet.

CS

Download this: Meltdown, Comatose

Alison Moyet

The Minutes

Cooking Vinyl, £13.99

Star rating: * * *

The Artist Formerly Known As Alf was the Adele of her day, a chunky, down-to-earth Essex lass blessed with a muscular voice. From the electro pop of Yazoo with Vince Clarke to the airbrushed solo years with Columbia Records, her speciality was proto power balladeering such as

Invisible and All Cried

Out, with a uniquely flinty

female touch.

The power is still there on this comeback album, with considerable passion on first single When I Was Your Girl, which stands strong with her best-known pop strutters. Changeling’s roomier dynamic offers more electro promise.

CS

Download this: Changeling, Love Reign Supreme

JAZZ

Liane Carroll

Ballads

Quiet Money QMR0002CD, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

The unimaginative title of British singer-pianist Liane Carroll’s new album belies the unexpected choices included. Carroll sets out her stall as a passionate, gutsy interpreter of songs, against a backdrop of string arrangements (particularly effective on the Sinatra classic Only The Lonely) or accompanied by guitar – as she is on such gorgeously simple and affecting tracks as the

opener Here’s To Life and

the slowed-down Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? A larger-than-life musical presence and soul-oriented vocal style.

Alison Kerr

Download this: Here’s To Life, Only The Lonely

FOLK

Annlaug Borsheim & Rannveig Djonne

Toras Dans

Fivreld Records FIV02, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

Norway’s Borsheim performs Hardanger fiddle (it has

extra sympathetic resonant strings and a flattened

bridge) plus guitar, but

her singing is especially beautiful and distinctive,

here accompanied by Djonne’s assuredly emotive button accordion and the fiddle/cittern of Sweden’s Esbjörn Hazelius. Her previous Celtic/Norse folk rock album was recorded

in Scotland with some of

the top Scots acoustic and folk musicians, but now she’s staying at home and creating a new stream of Norwegian songs and instrumental moods that are rich in emotional meaning, and touch the heart directly.

Though newly created, the album sounds well evolved, and satisfying, even when sung in her own language.

Norman Chalmers

Download this: December

CLASSICAL

Jonas Kaufmann

Wagner Arias

Decca 478 5189, £12.99

Star rating: * * * * *

German tenor Jonas Kaufmann’s performances have proven problematic for many critics, simply because there is often so little to criticise. As a result, arcane discussions arise about whether he’s a tenor, or a “heldentenor” (see Wikipedia), about as useful as the debate over whether or not Christ owned his own clothes that sits at the heart of the historical murder mystery, The Name Of The Rose.

What cannot be denied is the sonority and clarity of Kaufmann’s singing, and the characterisation he brings to his roles, while his performance of Wesendonck Lieder (stated by Wagner as written “for female voice”), shows both assurance and a willingness to step outside the usual repertoire. A recording to sit back and enjoy.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Rienzi: Allmächt’ger Vater, Blick Herab!

 

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