Albums: Laura Veirs, The Damned, Cardi B, Johnny Cash, Thirty Seconds To Mars
THE wavering reliability of mankind lies at the heart of The Lookout, the 10th album from Laura Veirs, an American folk-rock singer whose career has been building towards the kudos that is surely coming her way. The last time we heard from Veirs she was collaborating with k.d. lang and Neko Case on the case/lang/veirs LP, an under-the-radar gem, two years ago. She returns with an album loaded with warmth and compassion, albeit tormented by the world that surrounds it. Veirs frequently uses geological metaphors within her lyrics, but she makes no bones that The Lookout was influenced by the "chaos" of modern American life. That message hides behind no rock on Seven Falls, this record's standout track. Portland-based Veirs presents a record here that expresses a measured distaste and consternation at the state of society. Yet she conveys such deep humanity that the listener can feel gladly distracted, almost optimistic for what might come next.
IT'S been just over 40 years since The Damned released their first album Damned Damned Damned in 1977. Fast forward to 2018 and they are releasing Evil Spirits with the spirit of gothic punk going strong after so long, the only difference being Dave Vanian's matured vocals. The lead single, Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow, opens the album with an explosion and carries on throughout the album, as if there is hardly 40 years difference between 1977 and 2018. For fans of The Damned there will be no disappointment over their new material or change within their music style.
Invasion Of Privacy
ALL hail Cardi B, who finally dropped her debut album after a wait that seemed painful to many fans. Invasion Of Privacy, the 25-year-old rapper's first full LP following her smash-hit debut single Bodak Yellow last year, was well and truly worth the wait. It's a glittering example of female empowerment, sex appeal and pure attitude combined with the artistry of old-school hip hop. Kicking off with a rage and passion-filled opener Get Up 10, Cardi B – real name Belcalis Almanzar – sets the tone with its powerful message to her haters. It's a musical middle finger, and rightly so. From there, the album drips in classic 1990s and early noughties hip-hop vibes, filled with melodic harmonies, samples and addictive beats. The record is brimming with top-notch collaborations. Standout tracks include the peppy Best Life, Bickenhead and I Like It but the reality is, it's all pretty fabulous.
Johnny Cash: Forever Words
FOREVER Words follows in the footsteps of similar albums dedicated to Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie by taking a handful of Johnny Cash's unrecorded lyrics and challenging various artists to turn them into completed songs. Although there's an inevitable slant towards country and bluegrass numbers, the most notable tracks take the material in unusual directions. Elvis Costello brings swirling strings and jazz piano to I'll Still Love You, while Chris Cornell, in his last known recording, turns You Never Knew My Mind into an anguished rock anthem. The best interpretations, however, use minimalist arrangements to bring the Man in Black's fantastic words to the forefront, such as when Kris Kristofferson delivers a grizzled spoken-word reading of Forever accompanied by Willie Nelson on guitar, and real-life couple Kacey Musgraves and Ruston Kelly transform a love letter to June Carter with heartbreakingly beautiful harmonies.
Thirty Seconds To Mars
AMERICA is their first album in five years but Thirty Seconds To Mars have delivered – and then some. The release has been an event in itself with multiple album covers, each one different and emblazoned with words from songs that reference their theme on the album. Fans will be familiar with already released singles like Walk On Water and Dangerous Night, and the other 12 tracks won't disappoint. Both collaborations on the album – One Track Mind featuring A$AP Rocky and Love Is Madness which features Halsey – are both hypnotic and an exploration of new sounds that suit the band. Big ballads like Great Wide Open stay true to their talent for hitting the mark with it comes to delivering a big, impactful tune. Other tracks like Hail To The Victor, Remedy and Live Like A Dream also deliver.