In his latest music review, Kevin Bryan gives us his views on the albums to buy.
Nanci Griffith, ‘Intersection’ (Proper PRPCD 096)
Texan tunesmith Nanci Griffith has endured more than her fair share of trials and tribulations since she emerged as one of the leading lights of the ‘New Country’ movement in the early eighties. Two separate battles with cancer were followed by some fairly severe family turmoil and a prolonged struggle with ‘writers block,’ and these experiences have all fed into the musical content of ‘Intersection’. Nanci’s current approach to life seems to be summed up by the brutally honest ‘Hell No (I’m Not Alright)’ and the plaintive ‘Bethlehem Steel’ is another highlight of the most personal and poignant collection that she’s produced to date.
Raul Malo, ‘Around the World’ (Fantasy Records)
This polished live set captures Raul Malo’s one-off live show at The Sage in Gateshead last summer, when the former Mavericks frontman was accompanied by the lush sounds of the Northern Sinfonia in an unashamedly easy on the ear jaunt down memory lane. Someone once said that ‘Raul Malo could sing a tax form and make an auditor believe every word,’ and the Cuban baritone is in particularly fine fettle here as he smoothly emotes his way through The Mavericks’ 1998 hit ‘Dance The Night Away’ and much loved old standards such as ‘Besame Mucho’ and ‘La Vie En Rose.’
Maisky / Sinopoli /Philharmonia Orchestra, ‘Elgar:’ ‘Enigma’ ‘Variations’ (D.G. 478 361 9)
This splendid celebration of Sir Edward Elgar’s musical legacy finds Giuseppe Sinopoli and the Philharmonia providing the orchestral backdrop for Mischa Maisky’s performance of the ‘Cello Concerto’ before occupying centre stage themselves with rousing renditions of the composer’s ‘Enigma Variations’ and ‘Pomp and Circumstance Marches Nos.1 & 4.’ The late Jacqueline du Pre turned in what is arguably the definitive version of the ‘Cello Concerto’ in her 1965 recording for EMI with Sir John Barbirolli, but Maisky’s emotional interpretation of this melancholy work should also be required listening for Elgar enthusiasts everywhere.
Little Junior Parker, ‘Ride With Me,Baby’ (Fantastic Voyage FVDD 138)
Fantastic Voyage have released some fascinating archive anthologies during the past few years,and they’ve assembled another gem here in the shape of this collection of vintage singles recordings from Memphis bluesman Junior Parker. The gifted singer and harmonica player is probably best known as the man who recorded the original version of Elvis Presley’s ‘Mystery Train,’ and this highly influential track is one of the highlights of “Ride With Me,Baby,” which also showcases some classic r&b hits from the fifties and early sixties such as ‘Driving Wheel,’ In The Dar’” and ‘Feelin’ Good.’
Lacuna Coil, ‘Dark Adrenaline’ (Century Media)
The latest offering from Italian gothic metal specialists Lacuna Coil serves up a generous helping of the melodic and powerful electronica inspired fare which has become the Milan-based sextet’s trademark. The interplay between contrasting male and female lead vocalists Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia is one of the most distinctive features of this fiercely compelling CD, and the inclusion of their heavy duty cover of R.E.M.’s ‘Losing My Religion’ highlights the band’s refreshingly open-minded approach to music-making.