Rock (September 2018)

hfnalbum.pngToure Kunda
Lambi Golo
Soulbeats Records SBR05; LP: SBR104

After 40 years together, Senegalese duo Toure Kunda are back with their umpteenth album, still sounding very much like the youthful, vital world music innovators they were back in 1980. With guests including Carlos Santana and Manu Dibango, this album overflows with rippling, undulating African rhythms and drum patterns that challenge listeners not to dance, overlaid with the beautiful vocals of the band's founders Ismaïla and Sixu Tidiane Touré. Standout tracks include the soulful 'Sene Bayo' and the pulsating 'Sotolal', but the album works best as one single entity, an energising bath in positive grooves to be enjoyed in one long sitting. They've laid low for a decade, but Lambi Golo should put them back on top. JBk


Maddy Prior, Hannah James And Giles Lewin
Park Records PRKCD153

The indefatigable Prior is best known as the singer of folk stalwarts Steeleye Span, but this is her second album with accordionist James and The Carnival band's multi-instrumentalist Lewin. Happily, although very different from her Steeleye releases, this is a compellingly enjoyable album, in which most of the songs are about birds and our relationships with them, and with nature. As musicians they're all exemplary, and Prior remains in good voice, with an enjoyably diverse range of songs and instrumentals which although rooted in tradition, also incorporate contemporary ideas and values. If you love folk, dive in. JBk


Dan Stuart
The Unfortunate Demise Of Marlowe Billings
Cadiz Music CADIZCD159

After arriving in a blaze of glory with his early '80s cult Paisley Underground band Green On Red, Dan Stuart's solo career had a much lower profile, but he keeps on keeping on. He now lives in Mexico City and this album, which accompanies his novel of the same name, is the third in his series of Marlowe Billings discs. Billings is an imaginary character who some observers consider to be simply an alter ego for Stuart himself but, regrettably, although the notion of a trilogy of albums with an accompanying book sparks the imagination, Stuart simply sounds tired and bored throughout, especially on the dreary and repetitive 'Tucson'. At best, competent. JBk


Judith Owen
Twanky Records TWR 00158

Acclaimed as a singer-songwriter for over two decades, Judith Owen has often included cover versions in her live performances but, rather than just using them as safety-net crowd-pleasers, she delights in transforming unlikely songs into vehicles for her particular performance strengths. Finally, to the delight of many, she's released an entire album of those quirky covers. As you'd expect, songs like The Beatles' 'Blackbird' and the old chestnut 'Dream A Little Dream Of Me' suit her perfectly, but the real fun comes with Deep Purple's 'Smoke On The Water' and Drake's 'Hotline Bling', which Owen transforms into perfect piano ballads. JBk