Here’s our second weekly round-up of four recent or forthcoming releases worth a listen.
Another will follow next week.
• Keith Richards: Crosseyed Heart:
Being a living legend such as Keith Richards confers an infinite licence to engage in self-parody, and the 71 year-old takes full advantage of that on his third solo album, and his first since 1992’s Main Offender.
Its 15 tracks offer everything you’d expect from a solo effort from the Rolling Stones guitarist – riff-heavy rock, reggae and blues of varying descriptions – and they’re all done well enough to be worth the price of admission.
A couple of songs, Robbed Blind and Nothing on Me, are embarrassing attempts to aggrandise his outlaw reputation somewhat undermined by the fact that his criminal record isn’t anything that couldn’t be outdone by a teenage chav from Newcastle’s west end in a matter of minutes.
Richards’ willingness to be a walking, talking cliche is one of his most endearing features, though, thanks largely to his either having invented the cliches in question in the first place or appropriated them so long ago that no one can remember otherwise.
Like its creator, this LP, a No 7 hit, is a rough and ready effort offering an enjoyable mix of sweetness and swagger.
• Gabrielle Aplin: Light Up the Dark:
Singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin might be most famous for covering Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s The Power of Love to encourage TV viewers to do their 2012 yuletide shopping at John Lewis, but she’s clearly anxious to show that, like pet dogs, she’s not just for Christmas.
The 22-year-old might never repeat the chart-topping success of her festive telly ad soundtrack – and the fact this album, her second, peaked at No 14 and is now down to No 66 suggests that she won’t – but its thoughtful tunes and occasional experimental sounds do prove that she’s got what it takes to carve out a career worthy of carrying on long after the January sales for a few years yet.
• Duran Duran: Paper Gods:
The former pop pin-ups’ 14th album, a No 5 hit, finds them taking inspiration from various points of their past – most obviously from 1986’s Notorious album but from just about every other decade of a career stretching back to 1978 too – to mixed but generally postive effect.
Its title track is decidedly so-so, and Danceophobia, featuring a voiceover by actress Lindsay Lohan, is too twitchy and wilfully cheesy to make for comfortable listening, but there is plenty of other stuff here less likely to leave their fans scratching their heads in bafflement.
The pick of its dozen tracks is What are the Chances?, a ballad in the mould of Ordinary World or Save a Prayer featuring ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante.
• Nicolas Godin: Contrepoint:
To many, this will just be a succession of unpleasant noises punctuated by the odd unintelligible lyric, but to fans of the French electronic duo Air, of which Godin is half, it might well be an unadulterated delight.
Taking its cue from Canadian concert pianist Glenn Gould’s interpretations of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, the 45-year-old’s solo debut meanders hither and thither but always ends up back in baroque territory.
There’s even a tune on it called Bach Off to throw a bit of pun-based humour into the mix.