Albums: Carole King's Tapestry: Live a triumphant trip down memory lane
Tapestry: Live In Hyde Park
WHEN Carole King performed her iconic album Tapestry in its entirety for the first time at British Summer Time Festival last year, it was a triumphant trip down memory lane. The concert has now been released on CD and DVD/Blu-ray and there are plenty of sing-along highlights, such as the energetic I Feel The Earth Move, starting off the set with dramatic piano riffs and King's recognisable vocals to rapturous applause. The unforgettable You've Got a Friend is impossible to listen to without smiling, but nothing will get you reminiscing quite like Locomotion. A touching surprise comes in the form of a duet from King with her daughter Louise Goffin, on a reworked version of Where You Lead which younger generations will recognise as the theme for US TV show Gilmore Girls. This was King's first UK concert since 1989 but her emotive songwriting and stage presence is timeless.
DOWNPATRICK singer songwriter Brigid O’Neill has always had a voice that can stop traffic. Live, it’s a thing of real soulful beauty that’s won hearts and graced stages from her earliest days singing at the old Sunflower Folk Club on Corporation Street to her recent adventures with the songwriting set in Nashville, Tennessee.
There have been releases in the past but Touchstone, her new collection of original songs, is the first time that magic has been fully captured on record. Recorded with some of our finest local players and co-produced with Belfast man, and fellow Nashville traveller, Gareth Dunlop, it’s a strong, deeply personal album full of songs that tackle age-old themes of family and relationships with a blend of warm folk, blues and roots styles .
Standouts include the stripped-back traditional-sounding opener Little Birds, a song about a parent watching a child take flight from the family nest, and Rumour, which adds a little Music City magic to proceedings with some gently weeping gentle pedal steel guitar.
Best of all is Refugees, a song co-written with Matt McGinn. A tale of human displacement told with real heart that suggests a great songwriter lurks behind that golden voice.
Short Stories Vol. 1
THE Deacon Blue man comes out with a solo album of self-penned numbers, interspersed with a cover and songs originally recorded by his band. The opening track, I Thought I Saw You, sets the tone for the whole album. It's Ross, close miked, a piano and a lush string backing. These are clearly personal songs, sung with commitment if somewhat lacking in real passion. The DB songs Raintown and Wages Day will be familiar to fans but the new arrangement puts a different perspective on them. The cover of Goin' Back works well here too, fitting in with the feel of the whole album. No doubt Deacon Blue fans will take this to their hearts but whether it has a wider appeal is another matter. It's classy pop, well-produced and performed, but it remains to be seen if it has that something to be a huge success.
LAST year, American singer Anastacia showed off her moves on Strictly Come Dancing, but this year she's gone back to her music-making roots. Evolution, her first album of original music in three years, is packed with everything and there's definitely a good variety for fans, from big ballads, to upbeat, sing-along tunes and then a few laid-back songs to tone it down. The singer, who has battled breast cancer twice, has not held back in both powerful, heartfelt lyrics that are matched perfectly with big notes to give them that extra bang. Caught in the Middle is upbeat and inspiring and easy to sing along to, but if you're after a big ballad then you're spoilt for choice with My Everything, Not Coming Down and Before. It would be no surprise if Stamina – which was nearly the album title only, in the end, Anastacia decided it sounded "too clinical" – was topping singles charts soon.
Graft And Grief
THIS short EP from indie punk poet Sean McGowan opens, unusually, with a statement of intent encouraging the listener to remember that "there's more to life than graft and grief". If this sounds a little rich coming from someone who also admits to having only been born in 1993, he at least articulates his sentiments well over the subsequent five tracks. No Show and Clear Conscience in particular are bracing in their disgust at the modern rat race: the low-wage, zero-hour economy exploiting those at the bottom end and the dubious rewards waiting for the few that make it to the top. It's no surprise Billy Bragg is a fan, although these vaguely political musings are very much anchored in the average young person's fear of conformity in general. All of which is to be encouraged, but the hectoring tone soon becomes a bit wearying.