Neneh Cherry – Broken Politics
"Don’t live for nostalgia, but the impact of everything resonates,” Neneh Cherry sings on Synchonised Devotion, and at 54, she's sounding as good as ever, on this now only her fifth purely solo album and the second produced by produced by Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden. This gentler, eclectic pop featuring electronica, kora, flute, steel drum and harp, and simmering, observations about the shocking state of things – from false news spread via the web, to abortion rights, refugees, and gun violence. Cherry's righteous anger works well with a fractured intimacy in her distinctive voice. One of her best since the early days. Out on Smalltown Supersound.
Neneh Cherry - Natural Skin Deep
Farao – Pure-O
Fountainously fresh, otherworldly soundscapes by Norway's Berlin-based Kari Jahnsen again fill her second album, though this is also dancier than her still excellent, more folktronic debut of 2015, Till It’s All Forgotten. Jahnsen is a startlingly original, uncompromising multi-instrumental experimentalist. In sound, she also has as something of the Cocteau Twins about her, but here she has honed a style of pop accessibility that will hopefully also attract bigger audiences. Highlights include her love of obscure Russian electronic equipment (and disco) on Lula Loves You, the beautiful float-away fragmentation of a relationship evoked in The Ghost Ship, wobbly, cascading beauty on Luster of the Eyes, and the dancing upbeat melancholy of Marry Me. Out on Western Vinyl & Su Tissue Records.
Farao – Lula Loves You
Yoko Ono – Warzone
Another week, another longstanding artist revisits old tracks, and at 85, few are as longstanding as Yoko Ono. Nor is she some old rocker looking back with a commercial sentimentalism. Love or hate Ono, she's a Marmite of pop music with a unique life, with unique insights, access and experience, forever an oddball, hitting and missing, and this album of reworked material (different to her 70s albums revisit with guests such as Cat Power on Yes, I'm A Witch), this tackles and re-records her 80s output, half of which is from 1985's rather iffy Starpeace. But here there's a mixture of the challenging, angry and howling alongside the strangely beautiful. In that former category, Woman Power, a bluesy protest against patriarchy, especially now at Trump, and then the wistful, gentle piano-based Teddy Bear, stumblingly ethereal. Never to be ignored, she’s sometimes a spot you just have to squeeze. Out on Chimera Music.
Yoko Ono – Teddy Bear
Lisa O'Neill – Heard A Long Gone Song
Mixing original songs with traditions, this is wonderful raw, emotional folk from the singer-songwriter out on Rough Trade's new folk imprint, River Lea. O'Neil's voice, banjo, strings and more combine to spin a yarn of wonderful authenticity, from Rock The Machine, that bemoans the loss of Dublin dockers' work, to Violet Gibson, which tells the story of the Irishwoman who tried to assassinate Mussolini in 1926. Powerful, intimate and beautiful. Out on Rough Trade / River Lea.
Lisa O'Neil - Rock The Machine
Will Oldham – Songs of Love and Horror
He's better known as the main man of Bonnie "Prince" Billie, and variously Palace Brothers, Palace Songs, and Palace Music, but to accompany a new book of the singer-songwriter's lyrics, this is a stark, intimate collection of his songs played by Oldham alone. Desolately beautiful, melancholy, and sometimes deprecatingly funny. Out on Domino Records.
Will Oldham – I See A Darkness
Richard Ashcroft – Natural Rebel
Edgy and rebellious are not the adjectives you'd give this fifth solo album by the former Verve frontman, now shaven, shorn, and feeling “like a born again". Instead his has a big production, breezy drivetime feel that echoes Tom Petty or a touch of the Boss, with plenty of pedal steel guitar and orchestra. These People, for example, has echoes of the old Verve, maybe a tiny dose of The Drugs Don't Work, but it's closer to being American power ballad, with a touch of the very much influential Echo and the Bunnymen. When you feel it like Richard does? You might, you might not, but he refuses to stop going down the road. Out on BMG.
Richard Ashcroft – That's When I Feel It
TVAM - Psychic Data
This self-released album by producer Joe Oxley is an addictive mixture of beats-driven electronic and droney indie, inspired by the saturation of information flooding into our heads. Tracks such as Narcissus and These Are Not Your Memories sum up the lost swirl of modern life. Out on Psychic Data.
TVAM - Psychic Data
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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