OUR music critics review this week’s longplayer releases
Play It Again Sam, £11.99
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Drummer and principal songwriter with Razorlight, Andy Burrows wrote that band’s biggest hit, America, which may or may not have indicated there was more talent behind the kit than in front of it. The 15 songs on this record certainly suggest that he is prolific, and his style is that of Badly Drawn Boy reinvented as a surfer dude.
He can do pretty boy ballads such as If I Had A Heart, or toughen it up a little as on the title track, but he’s best at being tender and sensitive on Hometown or Somebody Calls Your Name. A Clifford T Ward for a new generation.
Download this: Hometown
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Taylor Swift’s latest offering is full of ruby-lipped country pop, tangy without being overly saccharine, but lacking the chutzpah to evoke Carlene Carter or Maria McKee.
Swift sings with a purity quite becoming, but mainstream rockers such as State Of Grace never move higher than third gear.
Even the track with Ed Sheeran, Everything Has Changed, sounds like more of an arranged musical marriage than anything else, and although Swift makes the big pop points with We Are Never Getting Back Together, the music is so desperate not to offend, it becomes offensive.
Download this: Everything Has Changed
HighNote Records, available online
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Soulful, majestic and funky are the best adjectives to describe the super-laidback tenor saxophonist Houston Person, an old favourite of the Nairn Jazz Festival who is now, incredibly given how hip he is, approaching his 78th birthday. This latest CD finds him in top form, in the company of one of his old army buddies, the pianist Cedar Walton, plus Ray Drummond (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums). The ballads – a characteristically majestic My Foolish Heart and the Johnny Hodges/Duke Ellington rarity It Shouldn’t Happen To A Dream especially – are particular standouts.
Download this: Don’cha Go Way Mad, It Shouldn’t Happen to A Dream
Johann Sebastian Bach
Champs Hill CHRCD031, £11.99
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What does a composer do when a new instrument arrives on the scene? In Johann Sebastian Bach’s case, his encounter with the transverse flute came in his thirties, and, as composer to the Prince of Cöthen, he took things relatively carefully.
He began with a cantata in honour of his employer, but soon gained confidence, using it in his Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, and rapidly branching out.
This lively CD from flautist Daniel Pailthorpe, pianist Julian Milford and the London Conchord Ensemble shows just how far and how fast Bach developed, helped by a move in 1723 to Dresden, where Buffardin, the greatest flautist of his day, was in residence, teaching Johann Joachim Quantz, his even more notable successor, and Frederick the Great, who brought a royal passion to the instrument.
A thoughtful, well balanced ensemble recording.
Download this: Sonata in B Minor, Largo e Dolce