Here’s our latest round-up of four recent album releases worth a listen.
Another will follow in due course.
• Adele: 25
She’s already done a James Bond movie theme tune, 2012’s excellent Skyfall, and Adele further cements her standing as the Shirley Bassey of her generation with her third album, 25.
The 27-year-old Londoner’s voice is as big and booming as ever third time round, and, like Bassey before her, she is capable of injecting drama into potentially mundane lines without sounding melodramatic and turning the bombast up to No 11 without coming across as overblown.
Its 11 tracks tread much the same ground as that already trodden on its predecessors, 2008’s 19 and 2011’s 21, but, given their colossal success, that’s entirely understandable.
The singer, alias Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, does try one or two variations on the usual themes, but it’s largely business as usual.
Oasis star Noel Gallagher might not like it, dismissing it as bland and cheesy, and he’s not entirely wrong, but, given that it’s already sold five million copes in the US alone, it’s unlikely that the singer will be too bothered about such criticism.
• Neil Young: Bluenote Cafe
The latest in the Canadian’s ongoing series of archive live releases catches the 70-year-old in fine form on tour to promote 1988’s This Note’s for You album, part of a return to form kick-started by the previous year’s Life that would go on to hit even greater heights the following year with Freedom.
Seven of the 10 tracks that made up Young’s 17th studio album are among the 23 songs featured on this double set, but they’re not its best moments, and nor are the seven hitherto-unreleased tracks featured – Soul of a Woman, Bad News Comes to Town, Ain’t it the Truth, I’m Goin’, Crime of the Heart, Doghouse and Fool for Your Love.
Its highlights are, rather, the Yardbirds-like Don’t Take Your Love Away From Me, first released on 1993’s Lucky Thirteen compilation; a near-13-minute version of the epic masterpiece Ordinary People, an out-take from the This Note’s for You sessions also rejected for Freedom and only finally found a home on 2007’s Chrome Dreams II; and an early version, with different lyrics, of Crime in the City, one of Freedom’s standout tracks.
• Seal: 7
This is the first album to be released by Seal, alias Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel, for four years, and it appears to draw heavily on his divorce from supermodel Heidi Klum last year in much the same way that Coldplay’s 2014 Ghost Stories LP drew upon frontman Chris Martin’s split from actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
Track No 6, The Big Love Has Died, pretty much gives the game away and the London-born 52-year-old’s soul is bared equally honestly elsewhere among the Trevor Horn-produced album’s 10 other songs.
Like Ghost Stories, however, that doesn’t make for a rewarding listen, falling well short of the standard of classic break-up albums such as Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks in 1975 or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ The Boatman’s Call in 1997.
• CeeLo Green: Heart Blanche
US singer CeeLo Green, alias Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, has hit troubled times of late, being taken to court for slipping a woman an ecstasy pill in a restaurant and also sparking controversy with some ill-advised remarks on what constitutes rape, and his fifth album won’t have given him much reason for cheer, having stalled at No 43 here and failed to chart in his native America.
The eighth of its 15 tracks is called CeeLo Green Sings the Blues, and that’s exactly what the 41-year-old does on it and elsewhere, and with good reason, though not always to great effect.
There’s nothing here anywhere near as good as Crazy, his 2006 chart-topper with Gnarls Barkley, but there’s more than enough to keep fans of his happy.