Album review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away

At the age of 55, Cave is cooler than he ever was, displaying control and conviction with a dash of the customary reckless abandon, while the Bad Seeds lock into a groove with laidback charm, from the eerie opener We No Who UR to the scientific strut of the almost eight minutes long Higgs Boson Blues.

POP

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push The Sky Away

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Mute, £12.99

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It is a world away from the grease and grit of Cave’s Grinderman project, his voice rich and smooth on graffiti titles such as We Real Cool. Pride of place goes to Jubilee Street, one very colourful thoroughfare.

CS

Download this: Jubilee Street, Higgs Boson Blues

Richard Thompson - Electric

Proper, £12.99

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The voice and guitar remain the impressive forces which have flown the folk flag above the English rock rampart for decades, but never make the mistake of dismissing Thompson for some folk rock relic. His electric guitar playing is distinctive with incredible touch and feel – listen to the twisting and turning solo on Stony Ground – and the songwriting is fresh and zingy. His genius extends well beyond the traditional, with My Enemy a stunning example of an emotionally fraught ballad. Thompson really is the best of British, and impressively international at the same time.

CS

Download this: Good Things Happen To Bad People, My Enemy, Saving The Good Stuff For You

JAZZ

Tessa Souter - Beyond The Blue

Motema MTM 87, £12.99

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American journalist-turned-jazz vocalist Tessa Souter translates her writing talents into song lyrics on this imaginative album, which features nine classical melodies adapted for a jazz group, plus three classically inspired standards.

Souter has a pleasing, easy-on-the-ear voice, but it’s the poetic lyrics and how they’re delivered which mesmerise here, along with the clever way in which she has reworked familiar themes by Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms and suchlike. The star-studded band includes pianist Steve Kuhn’s trio, plus the likes of vibraphone player Joe Locke.

Alison Kerr

Download this: Prelude To The Sun, En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor

FOLK

Ivan Drever, Frankie McGuire, Richard Young - Gifts

Orcadian Records ORCCD006, £14.99

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Ivan Drever, once guitarist and singer in Celtic folk rockers Wolfstone, has formed a new trio with Lyra Celtica percussionist Frankie McGuire, and multi-instrumentalist Richard Young. An acoustic album with one instrumental track among 11 Drever songs, their debut is a cleanly performed pot-pourri of song styles that eschews Scots traditional music in favour of an overreaching soft folk’n’roll, bluesy Americana and country balladeering. Easy on the ear, it remains light and simple.

Norman Chalmers

Download this: Candle In The Storm

CLASSICAL

Hélène Grimaud, Sol Gabetta - Duo

Deutsche Grammophon, £13.99

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The Menuhin Festival was founded by the violinist in the Swiss town of Gstaad after his move there in the 1950s. This year, one of the returning artists to the seven-week festival will be the cellist Sol Gabetta, who two years ago teamed up with pianist Hélène Grimaud for a highly successful festival concert whose works have now been recorded.

The music chosen, by Schumann, Brahms, Debussy and Shostakovich, demonstrates a distinct variety in the way different composers bring the two instruments together. In writing his Cello Sonata No 1, Brahms insisted that “the piano should under no circumstances assume a purely accompanying role”, an unlikely outcome given that Brahms played the piano at somewhat turbulent private performances.

There are no such storm clouds in this recording by these two highly talented performers: just a solidly enjoyable album.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Shostakovich, Sonata for Cello and Piano, Allegro