New releases for 31 January 2020

This week’s smashers kick off with the magnificent Torres (aka Mackenzie Scott), whose fourth album, Silver Tongue, is a full-scale realisation of the world that she has created in her previous work. Even when singing in more subdued tones, Scott’s voice is fervent, her lyrics stirring and unyielding as she draws from both the divine and the everyday. It’s also the first Torres record produced solely by Scott.

Over four decades, Ben Watt has maintained a committed forward-looking course, from the ardent echo-drenched folk of his early solo work with Robert Wyatt, through seventeen years as musical mainspring and co-lyricist with Tracey Thorn in the best-selling Everything But the Girl, to his more recent mid-life solo albums, the award-winning Hendra (2014) and Fever Dream (2016). Storm Damage, Watt’s fourth solo album, is sonically adventurous, lyrically detailed and engaged; written and produced by Watt himself, this is a personal journey through anxiety and change cut through with an insistent defiance.

Foolish Loving Spaces is the follow-up to Blossoms’ 2018 album Cool Like You. Tom Ogden’s increasingly direct lyrical range turns album number three into a romantic page-turner of light and shade, while its divergent moods are supplied by Myles Kellock’s piano and keyboard lines, careering from urgent stabs of TV game-show-theme synth to more classic, rolling notes. The record’s instrumental colour and widescreen sound is provided by pedal steel/lead guitarist Josh Dewhurst, while Joe Donovan on drums and Charlie Salt on bass bring fluidly danceable grooves throughout, complemented on occasion by a wall of gospel harmony.

Former Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond’s 26th solo album, Chaos And A Dancing Star, sees him join forces once again with producer/pianist Chris Braide, who worked with him five years back on The Velvet Trail. Almond’s themes on this record deal with hope surviving amid darkness and depression.

Live From London was recorded on 2 December 2009, just fourteen months before Gary Moore’s tragic death aged 58. On that night, the fabled guitarist played a special one-off club show at the Islington Academy. By turns fierce and moving, this release provides a fitting epitaph to a great musician.

Our album of the week is The Unraveling, the 12th studio album from one of America’s most important bands, Drive-By Truckers. Their first album in more than three years was recorded at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Service in Memphis. Co-founding singer/songwriter/guitarists Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood both spent much of the past three years doing battle with deep pools of writer’s block. “How do you put these day to day things we’re all living through into the form of a song that we (much less anybody else) would ever want to listen to?” asks Hood. “How do you write about the daily absurdities when you can’t even wrap your head around them in the first place? I think our response was to focus at the core emotional level. More heart and less cerebral perhaps.

Drive-By Truckers - The UnravelingTorres - Silver TongueBen Watt - Storm DamageBlossoms - Foolish Loving SpacesMarc Almond - Chaos And A Dancing StarGary Moore - Live From London

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