Album of the week
Let’s Eat Grandma
I’m All Ears – 5/5 (Transgressive)
It’s only two years since 17-year-old Norwich school friends Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton released their haunting debut album filled with songs about text books, tree-houses and baffling graffiti.
But it could have been a decade given the huge transformation in their music.
Despite adopting a more direct approach, particularly in their vocals, the duo’s music retains an other-worldliness that has become deeper, darker and more beautiful.
Two epic tracks in particular, Cool & Collected and Donnie Darko, channel a mysterious, slow-burning spirit that recalls Neil Young’s Cortez The Killer and Cowgirl In The Sand, no less.
Restoration: Re-Imagining The Songs Of Elton John And Bernie Taupin – 4/5 (MCA Nashville)
The greatest re-imagining of Elton’s songs was Pnau’s mash-up LP Good Morning To The Night but this collection, by a stellar cast of country music stars, is pretty impressive – partly because it covers less familiar material.
Miranda Lambert’s rendition of My Father’s Gun is beautiful and genuinely moving, Chris Stapleton channels Elton’s own vocal tones with muscular skill on I Want Love and Lee Ann Womack reworks Honky Cat with remarkable subtlety.
Beautiful Life – 3/5 (BMG)
Out Friday Propelled back into the limelight by the internet craze for playing with snippets of his Never Gonna Give You Up video, known as rickrolling, and the instant No.1 success of his 50 album, Astley returns with some finely honed but impressively soulful pop.
He uses background singalong chants with almost Graceland-type skill but it’s on the quartet of ballads that close the album that his vocals really stand out.
Our Country: Americana Act II – 3/5 (Sony Music)
Though not as potent as his first Americana album, Davies continues his USA love affair with beautifully arranged style, re-interpreting relevant songs from earlier projects and linking them with touching voice-overs.
Oklahoma USA, Bringing Up Baby and The Take all frame his unique storytelling skills quite brilliantly.
Florence + The Machine
High As Hope – 2/5 (Virgin EMI)
Autobiographical in a scrawled teenage diary sort of way, Florence Welch’s fourth album feels as sprawling and undisciplined as her Marmite vocals, snatches of genuinely moving life-story lost alongside toe-curling lines such as “What if one day there was no such thing as snow?”.
She has millions of fans and a great band but the cacophonous arrangements and her inability to decide on one vocal texture mean those with their fingers in their ears will remain that way.