Album reviews: Marilyn Manson | Norah Jones | Jazz | Folk | Classical

A roundup of this week’s forthcoming longplayer releases, featuring


Marilyn Manson

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Born Villain

Cooking Vinyl £11.99

Rating: ***

The temptation to insert the word “pantomime” into the middle of that title is hard to resist, but you cannot deny Manson’s ability to deliver the gothic goodies time after time. The quibble is that he never advances his music beyond the ghoulish rock’n’roll that made his name. No Reflection pouts and sneers but does not intimidate beyond the lame vampire reference in the title. Too much of this could be the Glitter Band reimagined by David Lynch – Murderers Are Getting Prettier Every Day tries overly hard to court controversy, but You’re So Vain featuring Johnny Depp is at least a goth guffaw.


Download this: Born Villain, You’re So Vain

Norah Jones

Little Broken Hearts

Parlophone, £12.99

Rating: ***

This is a beautifully constructed detailing of disappointment d’amour by the poor wee beautiful talented and wealthy young woman. This isn’t to suggest it doesn’t hurt for the Norahs as much as the nobodies, though, and the song She’s 22 obliquely captures the emptiness of hurtful betrayal as well as most.

Brian Burton’s production puts Jones firmly in the pop context, and there is an honesty which stops her hiding behind the jazzy frills. That said, Happy Pills could be a Bruno Mars cast-off and regrettably is not memorable for much else, while Miriam lingers with its lust for reprisal. There’s nothing here to rival Lennon’s How Do You Sleep, but enough to make you sleep with an eye open.


Download this: She’s 22, Miriam


Heather Cairncross

At Last, with David Newton

Bear Paw Music BPMCD742, £12.99

RatingL ****

This debut solo album by classical vocalist and former Swingle Singer Cairncross is best summed up as beautiful songs, elegantly performed, rather than a jazz album. Her excellent taste is evident in the choice of pianist David Newton as her partner on 14 sensitively handled duets. While his accompaniment often swings, Cairncross’s pure vocals don’t – but, on such stylishly rendered ballads as Embraceable You (on which Newton’s playing is particularly sublime), Where Do You Start?, Remind Me and Some Other Time, it doesn’t seem to matter.

Alison Kerr

Download this: Embraceable You, Where Do You Start?


Jack McNeill and Charlie Heys

Two Fine Days

Fellside Recordings FECD245, £12.99

RatingL ****

This is a subtle, skilful acoustic album, the third from the English duo, who started performing together while at Birmingham Conservatoire; he is a songwriter with guitar, she lights up violin/fiddle, tenor banjo and backing vocals. This is all emotionally forceful new music, the songs are dense, set in unusual phrasing with complex, poetic meanings, both moody and heart-touching.

Norman Chalmers

Download this: Seaglass


Jascha Heifetz

Miniatures, Vol 1

Naxos Historical 8.111379, £5.99

RatingL ****

From 1941 to 1944 the Lithuanian-born violinist Jasha Heifetz was at war, not with the Germans or Japanese, but with musicians’ trade union boss Caesar Petrillo, who sought to crush the rival union of which Heifetz was a founder member. When Petrillo issued a ban on recording new works, Heifetz (wanting to support the war effort) turned to live performances for Allied troops.

These light works stem from Heifetz’s return from the front, where he had performed many of them in response to demands for more popular music. Recording with Decca (which had reached agreement with Petrillo), these works demonstrate Heifetz’s ability to mix serious and light works.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Kurt Weill, Moderato assai