Rock (January 2019)

Meditations I-II-III
One Little Indian TPLP1444CDP

This sophomore album by electronic singer-songwriter Foxtrott (aka Marie-Hélène Delorme) is a gorgeous, immersive experience, in which analogue synth sounds provide driving rhythms combined with ambient field recordings, over which she creates vocal melodies exploring how she coped with the emergence of mental illness in her family. If that sounds daunting, the sheer beauty of her music makes it not only curiously soothing and uplifting but also distinctively different from most contemporary electronic pop. Delorme is an artist in whom the intellect of an '80s pioneer like Laurie Anderson mingles with the modern pop sensibility of Christine And The Queens to fashion quite uniquely beautiful songs and sounds. JBk


Me And My Friends
Look Up
Split Shift Records MAMFCD001

If this lot have a problem it's only that they can do too much too well. Their instrumental abilities incorporate the sparkling West African guitar stylings of Nick Rasle, the jazzy clarinet of Sam Murray and the almost classical cello of vocalist Emma Coleman, but their eclectic instrumental mix never sounds anything less than an absolutely immaculate combination. Coleman has a lovely voice, and the group's vocal harmonies are rich and warm. Their songs are credited to the whole band, but they possess so much identity that they might all come from one exceptional singer-songwriter. Joyful, uplifting and danceable, this album is an unalloyed delight. JBk


Amos Lee
My New Moon
Dualtone 0001876

Here's an album with the spirit of Sam Cooke and Al Green in every note. Lee doesn't actually sound like either of those soul greats but he definitely channels their sunlit optimism into what can only be called happy blues. Not only does Lee sing in tones that would melt permafrost, but his accompanying musicians are among the best around, from former Heartbreaker Benmont Tench on keyboards to multi-instrumentalist Ethan Gruska and pedal steel wiz Greg Leisz. There's never a note wasted and, although there's no credit for orchestral accompaniment, several tracks feature delicate string textures that sound too real and sweet to be synthesised. JBk


Ed Motta
Criterion Of The Senses
Membran Records 234491

If you've been sitting around hoping that Steely Dan's Donald Fagen might yet release another utterly brilliant album, this could be right up your street. Motta is often characterised as a soul artist, but he's also been called 'The Brazilian Steely Dan' which I feel hits the mark more precisely. From the opening keyboard chords of 'Lost Connection To Prague', these could be Fagen tracks you just somehow missed along the way, and Motta's cryptic lyrics and vocal inflections are also virtual Fagen clones. It's an impressive feat of replication but Motta lacks the Dan's acerbic wit, and ultimately a copy is just a copy, so this is only for the terminally smitten. JBk