CD Reviews: Duran Duran, John Grant, Prince and more

This month we reviewed the latest from Julia Holter and John Grant, we assess if Ryan Adams has the style to cover Taylor Swift and legends Duran Duran and Prince add their signature sounds to 2015.


 

Duran Duran

Duran Duran

Paper Gods

★ ★ ★

Thirty five years after they released their debut album, Duran Duran return with their fourteen album and it’s possibly their most upbeat and pop sounding record ever. Duran Duran have always been at their best when teaming up with talented producers and this record features Kanye West collaborator Mr Hudson, Mark Ronson and Nile Rodgers. First single ‘Pressure Off’ features Janelle Monae and it’s a funky number, the title track ‘Paper Gods’ really lets Simon Le Bon’s vocals soar. Other guests include The Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones, John Frusciante, Holly Cook and Lindsay Lohan. GW


 

Julia Holter

Julia Holter

Have You in My Wilderness

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

You’d struggle to find another CD as beautiful as this fourth album from LA’s Julia Holter. It’s filled with lush strings and tight percussion. The third track ‘How Long’ is devastatingly morose, while ‘Sea Comes Home’ is filled baroque guitar, ‘Lucette Stranded on the Island’ and ‘Night Song’ have an engulfing orchestra, while ‘Everytime Boots’ is full of bounce and tinkled piano. Filled with clever lyrics and emotion this is a first class collection of tunes that will appeal to fans of Kate Bush and Emiliana Torrini. GW


 

Ryan Admas

Ryan Adams

1989

★ ★ ★ ★

It’s unlikely that anything will top this for ‘Most Unexpected Record of the Year’, alt.country star Ryan Adams covers Taylor Swift’s album in its entirety. Adams output is prolific, 15 albums in 15 years, so it’s not like he can’t write a tune himself.  Apparently he just really liked the record and listened to it a lot following the breakdown of his marriage to Mandy Moore. Adams reveals the great beauty many of Swift’s songs, ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Blank Space’ are transformed, but his laid back and mellow take on ‘Shake It Off’ loses the fun of the original. GW


 

John Grant

John Grant

Grey Tickles, Black Pressure

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Former front man of The Czar’s, John Grant gets more interesting and experimental with every album. Here on his third release his voice is crisp, clearly delivering each profound lyric, it’s very theatrical almost operatic at times. Intriguing electronic bleeps mix with succulent strings and campfire guitar strumming. Grant’s deep voice is mesmerising and beautiful as he sings about oceans of longing and disappointment. Lead single ‘Disappointing’ features Tracy Thorn, her distinctive voice makes a wonderful opposing force against Grant’s deep bellowing. GW


 

Prince

Prince

HITNRUN Phase One

★ ★ ★ ★

Prince’s LP release last year, ‘Art Official Cage’, saw him return to sublime form and this release cements that return. In fact, this album is even better. Highlights? Plenty! Personal faves include the romanticism of ‘Fallinlove2nite’, an upbeat pop ballad sure to make you smile. ‘Shut This Down’ and ‘X’s Face’ see Prince hit it hard while ‘Hardrocklover’ is a slick guitar track that just kicks. Personal fave is the melancholia of ‘June’, an aching ballad that is lyrically clever and adorable. Superb! So glad you’re back P! SPM

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