Albums of the week - from Ed Sheeran to Freya Ridings
This week we check out the latest record from Ed Sheeran, his new album No 6 Collaborations Project, as well as the first LP from upcoming singer-songwriter Freya Ridings, fresh from her Glastonbury debut.
Ed Sheeran — No 6 Collaborations Project
Ed Sheeran gathering a collective of some of the hottest artists of the moment, collaborating with them across a range of genres and putting all the tracks all onto one album? If that doesn't say "surefire number one album" then I don't know what does.
Sheeran's fourth album could, at worst, be described as anodyne and formulaic, but at best is a showcase of the best in current pop, rock, grime and hip-hop, blending them all with his signature singer-songwriter (and part-time rapper) style. Despite what critics may think of Sheeran, who is arguably one of the most dominating and revered forces in the current music scene, his versatility knows no bounds as he straddles soulful slow jams with the likes of Yebba and Ella Mai, grime with Stormzy, hip-hop with Eminem and 50 Cent and rock with Bruno Mars and Chris Stapleton. No track is bad, but there are definite stand-outs, including the collab with Mars and Stapleton. Sheeran should definitely consider focusing on more rock-tinged music going forward.
Freya Ridings - Freya Ridings
Her 2018 single Lost Without You put her on the music map. And one thing is for certain: Freya Ridings isn't going anywhere but to the top of the charts. Her debut, self-titled album is packed with one hit-worthy song after the next.
Castles is already proving to be a favourite and there are plenty of impressive songs left to feast on including Holy Water, Ultraviolet and Still Have You. With a Glastonbury performance under her belt already, expect to hear a lot more from Ridings.
Ada Lea - What We Say In Private
Following the end of a recent romantic relationship, Ada Lea decided to keep a diary for 180 days.
She had to act. The emotional fall-out had left her unable to sleep.
She would stay up, sometimes for days at a time, painting and writing madly. The Montreal-based musician and artist, real name Alexandra Levy, wanted to mark her route to independence but inadvertently created the foundations of her debut album.
On all these tracks, Lea manages to combine heavy, dissonant guitars with a laid back, slacker vibe. But the two worlds don't clash, they congeal and harden into something strange and new.
Laville - The Wanderer
North London's Laville builds on the promise of his debut EP and collaboration with grime superstar Big Narstie with The Wanderer, a classy and compelling collection of breezy soul songs that recall the hey-day of Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.
Although the tone is never less than laid-back, the singer's languid vocals prove versatile, the album embracing a variety of genres: It would take a cold heart indeed not to be seduced by the sleek guitar lines and funk bass of Love Shine.
This is smooth, easy going music of the sort that could quickly become essential listening for romantics and lovers of lazy Sunday mornings everywhere.
Shakespears Sister - Singles Party
It has definitely been a ride of peaks and troughs for pop goths Shakespears Sister.
Singles is an amalgamation of songs from Marcella Detriot and Siobhan Fahey's heyday, plus tracks from the albums released under the SS moniker when Fahey went solo. This two-disc collection is home for two new tracks, current single All The Queen's Horses and C U Next Tuesday.
However, something doesn't sit quite right with this latest revival from the Nineties. This could be a completely holistic recoupling of the pair, or a rushed "everyone else is doing it, let's cash in" sort of thing. I'd have liked to have heard more new original music from the pair rather than a disc of remixes, six minutes and 10 seconds of You're History that appears to have forgotten where it was going and really does sound like a generic remix. I expected more.
This being said, at the time Shakepears Sister were groundbreaking and those original songs hold up. The dark goth popsters have a back catalogue that stand up against time.