Belfast Telegraph

Album reviews - from Alison Moyet to Sting and Shaggy

The unlikely combination of Sting and Shaggy unveil their joint album, while we look at the new releases from British act The Shires and singing sensation Alison Moyet.

ALISON MOYET — THE OTHER LIVE COLLECTION

If you were ever in doubt that Alison Moyet has a beautiful voice, her latest live album will make it very clear: she really, truly is the proud owner of some stunning vocals. Her blusey tones ooze richness and depth in The Other Live Collection, a live reworking of her biggest hits, including All Cried Out, Whispering Your Name and, of course, Only You, from her days in synthpop duo Yazoo.

Backed with the sounds of a cheering crowd, and somehow with even more emotion pumped into every note of each song, this record is a delight. It only makes you wish you were actually at one of Moyet’s concerts last year from her world tour in support of the 2017 studio album Other.

In an album of highlights, and some lesser-known and new tracks — such as the satisfyingly epic The Rarest Birds — 56-year-old Moyet proves that she is still at the top of her game following a career that has so far spanned more than three decades.

8/10: Lucy Mapstone

STING AND SHAGGY — 44/876

How exactly did this happen? The year is 2018 and one of showbiz’s most unlikely duets since Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe sees Northumberland songsmith Sting teaming up with It Wasn’t Me hitmaker Shaggy.

The result is 44/876, the album title referencing the dialling codes of the protagonists’ respective nations, rather than the number of record company executives who were required to sign off this most peculiar of projects.

The 12 tracks by the duo — who are also performing for the Queen’s 92nd birthday — drip with serotonin, even when Sting’s occasional bash at Caribbean patois has the effect of slathering a Chippendale cabinet with matt emulsion. But overall, it is a largely joyous and head-noddingly catchy collection.

7/10: Ryan Hooper

THE SHIRES — ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE

The British country duo have achieved phenomenal success, not just in the UK but in the US too, where they became the first UK country act to be signed to a major Nashville label and the first to receive an award from the American Country Music Association. It’s not too surprising that they have been embraced by the home of country music as they do US country pop very well and that continues on this, their third studio album.

Lead single Guilty is an upbeat, immediately catchy tune, showing that this band can get your feet moving as well as stir the emotions on ballads such as Speechless and Loving You Too Long. Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes’ voices blend beautifully and the strength of their songwriting shine through. Fans of The Shires will love this collection.

7/10: Lisa Allen

LORD HURON — VIDE NOIR

American band Lord Huron have been on the brink of megastardom for a while, but this third outing from singer-songwriter Ben Schneider and cohorts, chock full of anthemic, folk-inflected indie rock, has the potential to see them truly hit the big time.

The best tracks have a soulful, faintly retro vibe. Wait By The River is a reverb-heavy ballad that makes the most of its Phil Spector-ish wall of sound, as does Back From The Edge, which even recalls the distinctive drum opening of Be My Baby.

The more epic songs, such as When The Night Is Over and the six-minute Ancient Names (Part I) overdo it a touch with the bombast. But it’s this same quality that has led their most obvious antecedents, The Killers and Kings Of Leon, to become global superstars. Don’t be surprised if Lord Huron follow in their wake.

7/10: James Robinson

GANG OF FOUR — COMPLICIT EP

There must have been something in the water in the ’70s. From Wire to PiL to Gang Of Four, the heroes of the post-punk era still seem to have plenty of fight in them —and so it is proven again with the latter’s latest offering, a four-track EP of industrial punk-electronica led by single Lucky.

Guitarist Andy Gill is the only remaining original member, but the political fire that always made them stand out from their peers remains.

The cover for Complicit features its title spelt in Russian alongside a picture of Ivanka Trump. Perhaps the most potent attack, though, is on the song Ivanka (Things You Can’t Have): “I saw how hard daddy worked for his money/Daddy loves women and he believes in family.”

As you might expect from Gang Of Four, the temptation to reference the political story of a generation is too much to resist — but they were never going to do it like everybody else.

7/10: Stephen Jones

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