Album of the week
Passwords – 5/5 (HUB Records)
Reflecting both on the “modern age” and changes in their own lives – specifically singer Taylor Goldsmith’s marriage and what he calls the band’s “first step into adulthood” – Dawes’s sixth album is a beauty.
In fairness, the Los Angeles quartet took a huge leap forward with their last record, 2016’s We’re All Gonna Die, but the depth and resonance that album brought to their West Coast sound is refined here particularly lyrically.
Stay Down, a low-key meditation on the growing-up process, is both sweet and sad, beautifully showcasing Goldsmith’s soft-edged and rather beautiful voice.
Crack The Case, about a friend who wanted to kick out her husband because she discovered his “second life as a talent scout”, is also superb.
Best of all, though, is Feed The Fire which, like the last album’s title track, reflects on the band’s own success or, as Goldsmith puts it, “working for attention I’ll eventually resent”. Their upcoming tour with ELO should bring them to a wider audience so let’s hope he doesn’t resent it too much.
I Am – 4/5 (Ahh Ohh Records)
Emerging from the same north-west London punk scene as Adam & The Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni, bass player Mick Allen has channelled his muscular playing and presence into a series of industrial/art rock bands including The Wolfgang Press.
Geniuser teams him with painter and producer Giuseppe De Bellis whose churning electronic backdrops are both huge and terrifying (as on the superb Je Suis Geniuser), and curiously tender (Find You).
Allen’s commanding, Bowie-influenced vocals track the mood with genuine invention.
Swing Out Sister
Almost Persuaded – 3/5 (Miso Music/Absolute)
Ten albums and three decades on from their chart-busting debut album It’s Better To Travel, Andy Connell and Corinne Drury have refined their jazz sound.
The perkiness of hit singles such as Breakout has been replaced by a richer, more meditative approach, the 16 listed jazz accompanists adding strings, flute and brass, bringing a spine-shiveringly beautiful edge in particular to the title track, Everybody’s Here.
What We Did On Our Saturday – 3/5 (Matty Grooves, two discs)
The death of fiddle player Dave Swarbrick two years ago means that the famous celestial ledge on which they all plan to reunite has got a little more crowded. But the emperors of folk rock plough on. A live album, recorded on their 50th anniversary, What We Did… features veteran members Simon Nicol and Dave Pegg and reunites them yet again with Richard Thompson.
All the classics are here, from the awesome Sloth to Sandy Denny’s wistful Who Knows Where The Time Goes and, of course, Meet On The Ledge. Beautifully recorded, peerlessly played and exuding the warmth, still, of genuine devotion to a rich folk tradition.