Albums of the week: From Shania Twain to Demi Lovato
Shania Twain is back in the spotlight as she releases her first studio album in 15 years, Now, while London-based rockers Wolf Alice drop their second LP, Visions of a Life.
EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER — FANFARE: EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER 1970-1997
This is the latest collection of the band’s work to be issued, and what a box set it is. The lavishly presented set comes with 11 remastered albums, five CDs of never-issued recordings, a never before issued triple vinyl set titled Live In Italy — May 1973, a surround sound Blu-ray audio plus a 40-page hardback book with rare photos as well as tour programmes and a reproduction 7in of Fanfare For The Common Man.
The trio’s fusion of classical and rock was one of the most original and truly progressive sounds of the Seventies. The ideas keyboard wizard Keith Emerson originated in The Nice came to full flowering when he was joined by the bassist Greg Lake and drummer Carl Palmer, both of whom had equally impressive pedigrees. From their first eponymous album, which contained Lake’s Lucky Man, written when he was 12, through the radical reworking of Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition and right up to Works 1 & 2, their output showed a constant outflow of ideas.
All of this is represented here, along with examples of their equal prowess on the live stage. The showmanship and stage sets highlight their musicianship, plus their ability to excite a crowd. This impressive box set provides a real tribute to a supremely talented and hugely popular band.
SHANIA TWAIN — NOW
She famously coined the well-known (and much sung along to) line Man! I Feel Like A Woman back in 1997. Now, 20 years later, Canadian singer Shania Twain is back with more powerful lyrics and a new album titled Now.
Listening to the 52-year-old’s latest music offering is uplifting and you get the sense that this isn’t so much a comeback album as it is an empowering one. Twain has clearly put some of her tougher experiences from the past few years — a divorce, battling Lyme disease and fearing she may not sing again after doctors discovered lesions on her vocal cords — into the album. Anthems like Life’s About To Get Good and Swingin’ With My Eyes Closed are just as vibey and catchy as some of her previous hits.
Twain co-produced and was the sole songwriter on this album and her voice is stronger and more infectious than ever. Welcome back, Shania.
WOLF ALICE — VISIONS OF A LIFE
The London four-piece return, drawing from the same varied indie-rock palette as their 2015 breakthrough, but dig below the surface and lyrically, Visions Of A Life takes a more personal, soul-baring approach. Don’t Delete The Kisses makes clear that Ellie Rowsell’s love is not, in fact, cool, as she reverts to clumsy lovestruck teenager mode.
Elsewhere, there is a vulnerability and depth on show on Sky Musings — detailing a panic attack on a night-time flight — and St Purple & Green, inspired by Rowsell’s grandmother. Fans of the punk energy of You’re A Germ, meanwhile, are advised to check out the title track and the far-from-cryptically-titled Yuk Foo.
DEMI LOVATO — TELL ME YOU LOVE ME
Pop powerhouse Demi Lovato has something to say and boy, does she say it, no-holds-barred, on her new album. The tracklisting alone tells you what you need to know about the 25-year-old’s state of mind, with punchy song titles such as Sexy Dirty Love, Daddy Issues and Ruin the Friendship.
Lovato is feeling more like herself after years of battling with issues surrounding depression, and she’s produced an unapologetic, powerful pop album with a soul, worthy of comparison to Christina Aguilera’s 2002 masterpiece Stripped. After taking a break from the limelight last year, Lovato has returned with perhaps her most honest and well-produced offering yet.
Lovato has vocals better than most of her peers — she could easily out-sing Taylor Swift — and she’s at her best on this album when she flaunts them wholeheartedly. You Don’t Do It For Me Anymore and title track Tell Me You Love Me are highlights which almost feel like Celine Dion’s power ballads of the mid-Nineties, a rare treat in today’s musical landscape. And try not to dance to Sexy Dirty Love — dare you.
JOANA SERRAT — DRIPPING SPRINGS
Such is the authentic flavour of Americana informing Joana Serrat’s fourth album that you’d be forgiven for assuming she had grown up in the Texan town of Dripping Springs from which it takes its name.
As it turns out, the singer-songwriter has European roots, hailing from the town of Vic in Barcelona, but that distinctive Texan ambience is awash on every track.
There is no shortage of plaintive steel guitar, but the atmospheric production from Israel Nash also lends a haunting and faintly retro touch that channels vintage era Fleetwood Mac.
However, it never descends into kitsch or parody. Its quieter moments, on tracks such as Farewell and Keep On Fallin’, are as gorgeous as the “eternal sunsets” she sings about.
Belfast Telegraph Digital