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Albums of the week: From Dame Shirley Bassey to Sam Smith

 

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Dame Shirley Bassey's album I Owe It All To You

Dame Shirley Bassey's album I Owe It All To You

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Dame Shirley Bassey's album I Owe It All To You

Dame Shirley Bassey

I Owe It All To You

You wouldn't know it to listen to her voice, but Dame Shirley Bassey is celebrating her 70th year in showbusiness.

The singer (83) showcases her enduring talent and powerful singing voice in I Owe It All To You, an album which has been billed as her "grand finale" that is dedicated to her fans.

Dame Shirley, who prompted amusement by wearing a matching mask and sequined gold gown while promoting her latest release, mixes new material with covers on the album. However her re-recordings have varying levels of success.

Look But Don't Touch lacks the class of the rest of the album and sounds borderline cheesy, while I Don't Know What Love Is feels slightly predictable and dull.

However I Was Here has an ethereal quality and Who Wants To Live Forever is a bold reimagining of the original by Queen.

While I Owe It All To You is certainly not Dame Shirley's best work, her fine singing on the album is sure to delight fans.

6/10 Review by Tom Horton

Ariana Grande

Positions

On 2018's Sweetener Ariana Grande rose above the tragedy of the terrorist attack on her Manchester Arena concert, while 2019 saw her turn the page on her short-lived engagement to comedian Pete Davidson with the world-conquering Thank U, Next.

Perhaps it was to be expected that the 27-year-old's next record would eschew real life drama in favour of fantasy and fun. Positions is certainly both.

Love and lust are front and centre on these 14 snappy tracks, which focus almost entirely on her romantic life with boyfriend Dalton Gomez, a high-end Los Angeles real estate agent.

In contrast to the prolonged promotional campaigns which have launched her previous albums, Positions came almost without warning.

It was announced just 16 days ahead of release. But the songs themselves are less surprising.

Grande has found a groove in vibesy R&B and impressive vocal runs and for most part sticks to the formula.

Rapper Doja Cat's raspy appearance on Motive highlights the wonderful depth of Grande's voice, while 34+35 is likely to shock parents of her younger fans when they get the joke.

Positions may not match up to the heights of her recent work but that's fine - perhaps this is the album she needed to make.

6/10 Alex Green

Fearne Cotton

Happy Place

The former Radio 1 host and current host of Radio 2's Sounds of the 90s has put her podcast head back on to curate this feelgood album.

This is the first in an expected series of musical collections Cotton has created for the Decca record label - a 14-track soundscape featuring some of the biggest names, and others not so well known.

There's an instrumental version of Prince's Sometimes It Snows In April, Sam Fender's track Dead Boys which discusses the dark depths of depression and suicide, Rhys Lewis looks forward to personal growth in Storm In My Head, and rounding off with a spoken word piece co-written by Cotton herself with producer friend GABA and music by Amelia Warner, featuring the rich silky voice of one Dame Helen Mirren.

This is the perfect album to put on at the end of a difficult and emotional day.

It is almost meditative with its lullaby feel and gentle vocals.

8/10 Rachel Howdle

Sam Smith

Love Goes

Love Goes is a sort of mission statement from the 28-year-old Cambridgeshire singer.

Initially titled To Die For and due for release in June, the record was delayed and retitled in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This cautious approach is reflected in the music.

Smith, who came out as gender non-binary and adopted the pronouns they/them, does push beyond the narrow parameters of their previous two records, but there's little resembling a left-turn here.

Their heartbreak from the end of their relationship with 13 Reasons Why actor Brandon Flynn permeates the music, but is contrasted with a sense of personal freedom.

Among forgettable tracks like Kids Again and the cookie cutter Breaking Hearts, Smith still manages to land a few punches.

Dance ('Til You Love Someone Else) promises fire, with a bubbling synth line and satisfyingly deep kick drum.

It is perhaps the only song that effectively combines Smith's gloom with euphoria.

It is only a shame they have been unable to replicate that quality across a whole album.

6/10 Alex Green

Belfast Telegraph


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