Albums of the week: Lonely the Brave, Richard Ashcroft, Eric Clapton, Day of the Dead, Andy Shauf
Richard Ashcroft, enigmatic frontman of The Verve, presents his latest solo offering These People; the legend Eric Clapton shares new material on I Still Do, and rockers Lonely The Brave return with their second album, Things Will Matter. Here we round up the best of this week’s releases.
LONELY THE BRAVE — THINGS WILL MATTER
Lonely The Brave burst onto the alternative rock scene with 2014’s The Day’s War and this follow-up continues where that impressive debut left off.
The slow, brooding opener Wait in the Car sets a gloomy tone, before the chiming lead guitar and grungy chords of Black Mire come crashing in, topped off with singer David Jakes’ trademark impassioned delivery.
The memorable ringing guitar lines and anthemic chorus of Rattlesnakes grab the attention, while the more laid back Springsteen-esque Diamond Days shows there’s another side to the Cambridge-based rockers.
While there’s nothing to quite match the emotional depth of The Blue, the Green from their debut record here, there are plenty of big choruses and more delicate moments to keep fans happy.
8/10: Daren Francis
RICHARD ASHCROFT — THESE PEOPLE
Six years after his last album, Richard Ashcroft is back. Gone is his shaggy haircut, replaced by a close-cropped number. Does this signify a change in direction? Will he ever fully step out of The Verve’s gigantic shadow?
Well, no, and if this album is anything to go by, that is no bad thing. These People is Ashcroft at his Verve-tastic best, each song reminding you how hard life is, but also how much joy can be found in it.
It’s an album littered with good songs, but the stand-outs are the singles Hold On and, especially, This Is How It Feels. On the latter, Ashcroft reminds us there’s no one else capable of making musically brilliant grunting noises quite like him — in a good way — which helps you to forgive the somewhat predictable lyrics elsewhere on the record.
8/10: Sam Priddy
ERIC CLAPTON — I STILL DO
He may be 71, but age clearly isn’t slowing down Eric Clapton as he offers up his 23rd studio album. I Still Do sees the 18-time Grammy Award-winning British guitarist reunite with producer Glyn Johns, whom he previously worked with on his 1977 record Slowhand and 1978’s Backless as they collaborate on a slew of slow rock jams and mellow bluesy tracks, a combination of new material written by Clapton and cover versions.
Opening song Alabama Woman Blues sets the tone with its jazzy rock feel, with other highlights being Little Man, You’ve Had a Busy Day, Bob Dylan’s I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine and JJ Cale’s Somebody’s Knockin’.
I Will Be There, with its delicate beats, features the enigmatic Angelo Mysterioso on acoustic guitar, which is rumoured to be either the late Beatle George Harrison or his son Dhani, although Clapton and his spokesman have remained quiet about the musician’s identity.
8/10: Shereen Low
DAY OF THE DEAD — THE NATIONAL
For those of you desperately waiting for the next album from The National, some respite is at hand.
Two of the band’s members — brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner — have curated a new album based on the songs of American rock band, The Grateful Dead, all in support of HIV/AIDS charity Red Hot Organisation. This is their second compilation for the organisation, after 2009’s Dark Was The Night, but this one is much larger in scope.
Featuring an impressive 59 songs, it is somewhat inevitably a bit of a mixed bag, but there are some great covers tucked within the three volumes.
Highlights include the two songs featuring Phosphorescent — Sugaree and Standing On The Moon, as well as a wonderfully subdued number by Mumford and Sons, Friend Of The Devil, and, of course, a slew of covers infused with National frontman Matt Berninger’s baritone.
7/10: Sam Priddy
ANDY SHAUF — THE PARTY
Andy Shauf is certainly on the rise, if you consider opening for soppy folk rockers The Lumineers high praise.
The Canadian singer-song writer and multi-instrumentalist plays all the instruments on his latest album, The Party, except for the strings.
His people state that this is “not a concept album” but admit Shauf has gone about populating the string of songs with “characters” — thankfully this theatricality doesn’t distract from the actual music.
The clarinet and strings use is regularly very Wes Anderson-like — particularly the continental, belle epoque opening bars of Early To The Party and the sprightly Begin Again, neither of which would seem out of place on a Beirut record.
Some of it is a bit twee (Eyes Of Them All) and Shauf’s voice can border on whiny at times (the overly romantic Quite Like You), but it’s an interesting and intriguing effort, and the string arrangements are often quite lovely.
6/10: Ella Walker