CD Reviews

Monday 24th March: No live music for me this Easter weekend but, a handful of HMV gift vouchers and the arrival through the post of a debut CD that I pre-ordered a few weeks ago gives me the excuse to post a few short(ish) reviews. So, in no particular (except alphabetical) order… (Oh, yeah, and apologies to Roj for stealing his title format for this week’s post.)

Bryan Adams: 11…
The Canadian Rocker’s eleventh studio album contains eleven songs, so there’s no guessing where the title comes from. Adams is one of my favourite live performers – he seems to have so much fun on stage – and I have most of his albums. This one has been described as more introspective than the others and definitely seems a bit moodier and less bouncy, without dispensing with the whole rock attitude. Unfortunately, on the first couple of listenings, there isn’t a whole lot new here and the most memorable songs are the ones that reminded me of tracks from previous albums (Oxygen and Walk On By). To be fair, at this stage in anybody’s career, they aren’t going to come out with a radical new direction and, this is a very listenable album. It just lacks some of the punch of 18 ‘Til I Die, Waking Up The Neighbours and Reckless. I have a feeling that, like Room Service, it will end up growing on me.
Sheryl Crow: Detours…
In the past couple of years, Ms Crow has, in some people’s opinions, gone a little batty with her “Save the Earth” credo. After all, it was her who suggested that it would be better if we all used just two sheets of loo roll per visit (although, in my house, getting below twenty would be a start…). Her latest studio album continues and expands the theme, with songs about gasoline shortages, religious tolerance and war. Fortunately, but probably against the plan, there’s something about Crow’s vocals which stop these songs from sounding preachy. Her voice is just too light, too much fun, too infectious to put you off listening, whatever your political or religious leanings. Among the “message” songs are a couple of more personal ones – a lullaby for her son and, in reference to her experience with breast cancer, Make It Go Away (Radiation Song). All in all this is a very good album, lyrically there isn’t the brightness of earlier releases but, overall, there isn’t really a bad song.
One Night Only: Started A Fire…
Having only heard the single (Just For Tonight), this was a bit of a risky purchase. After all, the front cover makes this five-piece from Helmsley, look more like a boy-band in the tradition of McFly, than a full-blown rock band. Happily, the album is more to my taste than my five-year-old’s (although, her taste in music is, I like to think, a bit more sophisticated than most of her age). I’ve only had the chance to listen to the album once since I bought it and, being honest, the single is the only stand-out song for me at the moment, but I suspect that this is more due to familiarity than being the best song on the album. The whole thing, though, is much better than I expected and I will be taking the next opportunity to play it again and listen more closely.
Panic Room: Visionary Position…
Isn’t t’internet wonderful? Last year, I went to the launch of Odin Drangonfly’s CD, Offerings. From Odin Dragonfly, browsing through links, I discovered Mostly Autumn, from them Breathing Space and, from them, Panic Room. The latter are made up former members of rock band Karnataka, along with current members of Mostly Autumn and Fish’s band – thus they are part of one of the most convoluted musical family trees I have come across. Anyway, I took a chance that, given the pedigree, I would like them and pre-ordered the album, avoiding listening to anything on it until it arrived. Mainly modern prog-rock (without the epic scope of Mostly Autumn) with jazz, Middle-Eastern, Celtic and traditional influences, the eight tracks on this album are superb. The first track, Elektra City, tells a tale of the dangers of technology (with more than a nod to the Terminator films) which fittingly and, somewhat surprisingly, ends with a near freeform jazz, piano-led instrumental. Other highlights are Firefly, a more traditional song, and the twenty-minute final track, The Dreaming, which is only let down by too many vocals over the soaring instrumental and an out of place final couple of minutes. The lead singer, Anne-Marie Helder (also on flute), has a stunning voice and a good vocal range and the guys playing the hardware (Paul Davies, guitars; Jonathan Edwards, piano, keyboards, loops; Gavin John Griffiths, drums, Alun Vaughan, bass) produce some excellent instrumentals. This is my kind of music.
Hmmm, maybe t’internet isn’t that good after all – there are still quite a few links on the Mostly Autumn site that I haven’t clicked on and I only have a limited budget…

About Ian

Regular gig-goer in York, both to see local and touring bands. Huge music fan, with more CDs than my wife thinks any one person should own. I also collect American comics, read a lot of SF and fantasy and am a season-ticket holder at Leeds United.
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