Del Amitri/ Fatal Mistakes, Alternative Rock, Cooking Vinyl
With the albums Twisted and Some Other Sucker’s Parade, and the song Roll To Me, Scottish band Del Amitri became popular among alternative rock fans in the 1990s. After a couple of albums, they vanished since 2002.
Now they return after 19 years with Fatal Mistakes, determined to prove that their songwriting and melodies are still as tight as before. To a great 000extent, they succeed, getting straight to business on You Can’t Go Back, with vocalist Justin Currie and guitarist Iain Harvie in top form.
The band has been described as beer-rock, and Musicians & Beer and Close Your Eyes & Think Of England put you in that mood. There’s talk of resurgence and survival on Losing The Will To Die and I’m So Scared To Die.
A highlight is Otherwise, with its infectious tune and the lines “And the only thing keeping us afloat is to dream what might have been otherwise”. Add to that a strong emotional quotient on Its Feelings and Lonely, and you have a great comeback album.
Rating: 8/ 10
St Vincent/ Daddy’s Home, Pop-Rock, Lorna Vista
Annie Erin Clark, better known as St Vincent, has already released six albums, including one with David Byrne of the Talking Heads. Moving into the American singer’s seventh record Daddy’s Home, one thing listeners can be assured of is variety.
From the Prince influences of Pay Your Way In Pain to the ambient sitar-guitar of Down & Out Downtown to the Pink Floyd aura and guitar burst of Live In The Dream, most tracks move in totally different retro-laced directions.
Co-produced by indie artist Jack Antonoff, the album brims with smart orchestrations, most evident on the title track. Besides the guitar dominance on most tracks, Wurlitzer and Mellotron keyboards are used smartly.
The track Down excels in arrangements, and Somebody Like Me and My Baby Wants A Baby is class vocal acts. The songs are about personal troubles, hope, or the release of her imprisoned father. Overall, this is a cracker of an album.
Rating: 9/ 10
Rag’N’Bone Man/ Life by Misadventure, Pop/ Soul, Sony Music
British singer Rory Graham, aka Rag’N’Bone Man, had a huge hit four years ago with the album and song Human, receiving praise from 0critics and the Brit Awards jury. His distinct baritone, coupled with pop tunes that sprinkle a dash of soul and rhythm n’ blues, makes him stand apart.
His new album Life by Misadventure has some commendable tracks, as he begins with the gospel-tinged Fireflies and country-laced Breathe In Me. A duet with American singer Pink on Anywhere Away From Here shows perfect coordination.
In terms of singing technique and voice modulation, Rag’N’Bone Man is textbook-perfect. This is most evident in Talking To Myself, where he sings “I need something, I need someone”, and Alone, with its melodic chorus line.
However, after a point, a bit of repetition creeps in and the second half has some forced fillers. Maybe 15 songs was a misadventure when 12 would be ideal.
Rating: 7/ 10
Chrissie Hynde/ Standing In The Doorway, Bob Dylan versions, Self-Released
Doing a Bob Dylan cover is always risky. One is so used to the man’s style that any diversion seems awkward on first listening. Now, the Pretenders vocalist Chrissie Hynde takes nine songs, and pares them down by sticking to drumless acoustic backdrops.
The experiments work in some cases, and don’t in others. What’s praiseworthy though is Hynde’s choice – instead of filling her new album Standing In The Doorway with greatest hits, she picks ballads which diehard Dylan fans would know.
Blind Willie McTell and Love Minus Zero/ No Limit have been brilliantly executed, with crisp vocals and vibrant arrangements. Tomorrow Is A Long Time gets a nice minimalistic touch.
Don’t Fall Apart From Me Tonight takes time to grow, but Sweetheart Like You and In The Summertime are lacklustre. The main challenge with such a project is to get Dylan fans to take it seriously, and only some versions have that required sparkle.