Monday, September 19, 2011

Album Review: Clare Maguire - Light After Dark

Clare Maguire - Light After Dark

One of my top 10 'must see' events at this year's Glastonbury was the debut of Clare Maguire, the diminutive Brummie with the amazing voice. One of the BBC's top five 'sound of 2011' list, I had heard a couple of Maguire's singles and was determined to find out more.

Sadly, a bout of terrible stomach trouble put paid to that, and so it's only now that I've finally got to find out what all the fuss is about. And, unlike many of the critics whose reviews I have read, the fuss seems totally justified.

I love Light After Dark. Energetic piano-led pop, it is jam-packed with potential chart singles including the marvellous The Shield and the Sword, The Last Dance and I Surrender as well as oddly-paced but excellent hit Ain't Nobody.

I've heard Maguire's voice variously compared to Annie Lennox and Shakespear's Sister and there is certainly something slightly retro about this record - think Hurts perhaps but with a female vocal.

By the time the utterly terrific This Is Not The End had closed this album, all I wanted to do was to listen to it again. And again. And, it's still getting better with every listen. It might not be pushing any musical boundaries, but Maguire has a brilliant voice and Light After Dark is a likeable, high quality pop record.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Album Review: Joshua Radin - The Rock and the Tide

Joshua Radin - The Rock and the Tide

Looking for a quiet and relaxed place to spend an hour at Glastonbury a couple of years ago led me to Joshua Radin's largely acoustic performance on the Other Stage. Since then, I have become a great fan of his 2008 album Simple Times which he follows up here with his third album, The Rock and the Tide.

The Rock and the Tide marks a slight departure from his previous work in that it's more upbeat with a lot more going on. Whilst some gentle acoustic moments remain - Think I'll Go Inside is beautiful - this album is louder with instruments that sound as if they have been plugged in this time. The Ones with the Light has a jaunty keyboard riff reminiscent of the Fine Young Cannibals' Good Thing whilst opening track Road to Ride On is a great statement of intent as to what Radin is trying to achieve with this album.

I think he's a great talent and I don't share the critical reviews of many fans who simply wanted the 37 year old to continue with his stripped back ruminations about life and love. The bigger production suits him and whilst The Rock and the Tide is hardly pushing musical boundaries it is a likeable, melodic and accomplished record.