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Albums of the week - from Shirley Collins to Ronan Keating


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Ronan Keating's new album Twenty Twenty

Ronan Keating's new album Twenty Twenty

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Ronan Keating's new album Twenty Twenty

RONAN KEATING - TWENTY TWENTY

Ronan Keating's new album Twenty Twenty is a glorious trip down memory lane. Lashings of nostalgia are provided courtesy of reworked hits like When You Say Nothing At All, Life Is A Rollercoaster and Lovin' Each Day. The album is a celebration of Keating's 20-year career and singles like Forever Ain't Enough and Little Thing Called Love bear testament to his success as a solo artist. The former Boyzone star has undoubtedly carved out an impressive solo career. Add to that, on this album, duets with Emeli Sande (One Of A Kind), Shania Twain (Forever And Ever, Amen) and Robbie Williams (The Big Goodbye) are poignant and powerful. Only Lovers is a real stand-out and likely to claim a singles chart spot soon enough. If you want a mix of some old favourites and sound new tracks, then this album will be a listening delight for you.

8/10, Kathy Iffly

SHIRLEY COLLINS - HEART'S EASE

Heart's Ease, named for the wild pansy found across Europe, heralds the return of one of British folk's true flag-bearers. Aged 85, Shirley Collins continues to work within the genre's traditions.

The Sussex-born singer first learned Barbara Allen, the Scottish ballad, while at school, and discovered The Christmas Song after it was performed by The Copper Family, an early influence. Another two songs include lyrics by her first husband, Austin John Marshall, a graphic artist and poet who produced several of her albums. But Heart's Ease looks forward as well as back, demonstrated on album closer Crowlink, named after a pathway on the South Downs overlooking the English Channel, a discordant soundscape of hurdy-gurdy, synthesiser and field recordings of birds. Collins returned to music in 2016 with Lodestar, recorded after a 38-year break due to dysphonia, causing involuntary spasms in the voicebox. Four years later, she develops her intimate, enveloping world further.

7/10, Alex Green

COURTNEY MARIE ANDREWS - OLD FLOWERS

Music has more than its fair share of heartbreak-inspired albums. Courtney Marie Andrews is aware of that. In the sleeve notes to her new album, Old Flowers, the singer-songwriter, from Phoenix, Arizona, says as much. "There are a million records and songs about that," she writes. "But I did not lie when writing these songs." Give thanks that she took the plunge and devoted an entire album to the end of her nine-year relationship. Tired tropes of longing and loss are few and far between. Instead we get songs that capture the breadth of a relationship, for example If I Told, and explore shared hopes and dreams. Carnival Dream, a elegiac ballad that forms the centre point of the record, recalls a nightmare Andrews shared with her ex and works as a nice exemplar for the album in its entirety: sparse, haunting but delivered with poise.

7/10, Alex Green

Belfast Telegraph