Reviews: Elbow | Metronomy | Joan As Police Woman

Guy Garvey of Elbow. Picture: Getty Images
Guy Garvey of Elbow. Picture: Getty Images
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“I’m having a baby/on second thoughts, Scotch and dinner,” mutters Guy Garvey mournfully on the fuzz-toned skiffle of Fly Boy Blue/Lunette, dragging us all into his circle of middle-aged doubt and twinkle-eyed misanthropy.


The Take Off And Landing Of Everything

Fiction, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

The Bury quintet have never been a band to inspire a party, but this sixth album beautifully nails the transition from young adulthood to the downslope of life, with its quiet yearning for a way to keep the hope and optimism of youth alive.

One method, says the second part of the above diptych, is alcohol, with Garvey “reaching the age when decisions are made on life and the liver” and noting that “a tip to my lips just reminds me to breathe”. He searches through the elegiac New York Morning, which brilliantly conveys that optimistic feeling that the big idea is just around the corner, and puts his faith in the nebulously miraculous in My Sad Captains.

Throughout, it’s a record which continues to nail the particularly emotive tone Elbow have cultivated across their career: always measured and never brash, but each song memorably textured. Garvey’s vocals have a strongly resonant timbre as, for example, when he tear-jerkingly realises that “all the stories meant for you have already started” in Colour Fields, or navigates through the unsettling symphonies of The Blanket Of Night.

Less inclined to hike up the volume than their earlier efforts, this is a record that, although unlikely to win over the undecided, will capably meet every expectation Elbow’s fans have placed on their shoulders.

David Pollock

Download this: Fly Boy Blue/Lunette, The Blanket Of Night



Love Letters

Because Music, £12.99

Star rating: * * *

Maturing from a group of hyped young things into one of the UK’s foremost creative outlets for wonky, off-the-wall electronic indie pop, Totnes band Metronomy return with a fourth album which is compelling if not always convincing. Perhaps the most engaging elements are the unexpected lo-fi throwbacks to psychedelic 1960s pop, including the sub-Zombies pace of the title track and Month Of Sundays’ breezy Arthur Lee twang, with less surprising stylistic trips through The Upsetter’s pastoral acoustic pop and the Roxy Music funk of Boy Racers. Yet 
ventures into medieval harpsichord folk (Monstrous) and chip-pop (Reservoir) take the experimentation 
a bit too far. DP

Download this: The Upsetter, Boy Racers

Joan As Police Woman

The Classic

Play It Again Sam, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

Connecticut-raised Joan Wasser has had a magpie-like music career which has seen her play with Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright’s backing band and Lloyd Cole. Through it all, her solo career has progressed from strength to strength, with this fourth album displaying new levels of assurance, from the brassy groove of Holy City (with a guest rap from comedian Reggie Watts) to the smooth doo-wop of the title track (a brave choice when album-naming), the tender and understated symphonic soul of Get Direct and the measured Caribbean gospel of Ask Me. DP

Download this: Holy City, Get Direct


Evan Christopher’s Django À La Créole


Fremeaux & Associes FA8501, £13.99

Star rating: * * * * *

This international group has a loyal following thanks to its exhilarating fusion of Evan Christopher’s exotic clarinet sound with the Hot Club format of the trio, and invariably provides a five-star live listening experience, so it’s no surprise that this selection of numbers recorded during their autumn 2012 tour is nigh on sensational. As ever, Christopher thrills with his dynamic, dramatic soloing and exciting interplay with guitarist David Blenkhorn. While most of the titles feature on the quartet’s previous CDs, there is a handful of new tunes – among them One For The Duke, a sublime take on the Ben Webster-Johnny Hodges number I’d Be There. Alison Kerr

Download this: Douce Ambiance


Paul Anderson

Land Of The Standing Stones

Fingal Records FINCD50, available on the internet

Star rating: * * * *

Scotland’s North-east is a separate nation within the country, and its distinctive vocal and linguistic traditions stand apart – as does the unmistakable sound of its fiddle, here played by the top current exponent. This CD has solo fiddle, occasionally accompanied by Swedish cittern, 
Scots keyboard or one of seven musicians – with Shona Donaldson on a couple of songs, and Scots actor Kevin McKidd, who successfully holds down the ballad Bonnie Henry Gordon. This unique and strong album ends with Anderson’s powerful themed creations for the theatrical touring version of Grassic Gibbon’s literary masterpiece Sunset Song. Norman Chalmers

Download this: The Beauty Of Cromer


Ivan Karabits

Concertos For Orchestra

Naxos 8.572633, £6.99

Star rating: * * * * *

Current events in the Ukraine give something of an edge to these world premiere recordings of works by the Yalta-born composer Ivan Karabits, who died in 2002 – here recorded by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by his son and principal conductor, Kirill Karabits.

With Karabits’ three concertos for orchestra paired with two shorter works by another contemporary Ukrainian composer, Valentin Silvestrov, this album gives an insight into Ukrainian music-making before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The music from both composers is distinctive, thoughtful and inventive, and clearly not simply a recapitulation of Soviet orchestral compositions of the same period. Karabit’s music constantly explores new ground. Silvestrov’s works in particular are immediately accessible, but all worth hearing. Alexander Bryce

Download this: Silvestrov: Abschiedsserenade, Moderato