Kevin Bryan reviews the best new music releases.
Amy Duncan: Cycles of Life (Linn AKD 437)
Subtly expressed introspection is the order of the day as Linn Records unveils the fourth studio album from Edinburgh based singer-songwriter Amy Duncan.
Her work may have been compared to Joni Mitchell and Sinead O’Connor in the past but Amy’s classical background gives her songs and arrangements a pristine polish which can appear rather bland at times, although the contents of Cycles of Life do certainly repay closer investigation nonetheless.
Navigating, Running Boy and When The Dead Are Watching are the best of a fragile bunch.
Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown: Goin’ To The Delta (Ruf RUF 1196)
Savoy Brown were one of the most exciting and energised outfits to emerge from the British blues boom of the mid 1960s but a vast volume of water has flowed beneath the proverbial bridge since those heady days, and the current line-up of the band is now limited to founder member Simmonds and the recently recruited rhythm section of Pat DeSalvo and Garnet Grimm.
Goin’ To The Delta finds singer-guitarist Simmonds guiding the trio through a varied assortment of shuffles, boogies and robust bluesy romps with his old power and passion still mercifully intact after almost half a century’s worth of muscular music-making.
Jackie Lomax: Against All Odds (Angel Air SJPCD 436)
The late Jackie Lomax was one of the first artists to sign to The Beatles’ Apple label, cementing a relationship which had begun much earlier in the 1960s when they had both performed at Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club as aspiring young musicians.
The Fab Four went on to fame and fortune but Lomax remained a relatively obscure figure, completing his musical epitaph, Against All Odds, shortly before his untimely death a few months ago.
The finished product provides a splendid showcase for Jackie’s soulful vocals and deliciously fluid guitar work and is well worth 40 minutes or so of anyone’s time.
Starry-Eyed Serenaders (Fantastic Voyage FVDD 183)
Compiler Stuart Colman has masterminded a series of fascinating anthologies for Fantastic Voyage over the years, always striving to achieve an attractive balance between much-loved hits and highly sought-after rarities.
This romance-drenched offering focuses attention on the work of some of the American vocal groups who were active during the golden years of rock ‘n’ roll, drawing on recordings made between 1955 and 1962 by the likes of the Clovers, the Crests and the Harptones, who chip in with the classic Life Is But A Dream.
Maurizio Pollini: Schubert (D.G.479 2290)
The latest in DG’s impressive series of Pollini anthologies concentrates on the great Italian pianist’s recordings of Schubert’s keyboard repertoire from the 1970s and 80s, bringing them together for the first time in a single three-CD set.
These interpretations of the composer’s Wanderer Fantasy, four sonatas and three late piano pieces rank amongst Pollini’s finest achievements and should be required listening for classical music devotees everywhere.