Album reviews: Eleanor Tomlinson, Lykke Li, Jorja Smith & My Glass World
ELEANOR TOMLINSON – TALES FROM HOME
POLDARK'S Eleanor Tomlinson is following the well-established if not entirely auspicious showbiz tradition of actors releasing covers albums just in time for Father's Day.
Tales From Home does at least have the distinction of an uncommonly tasteful selection of tracks, including new versions of Gordon Lightfoot's If You Could Read My Mind, Bonnie Raitt's I Can't Make You Love Me and Fairport Convention's Who Knows Where the Time Goes.
Inevitably, however, Tomlinson doesn't bring much in the way of originality or pizzazz to her interpretations. She has a pleasant if not particularly distinctive voice, but the music itself is bland and rather cheap-sounding, like supermarket muzak.
Hardly essential, but as amiably inoffensive as a Sunday evening period drama.
(Review by James Robinson)
LYKKE LI – SO SAD SO SEXY
IN SO Sad So Sexy, Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li presents a musical appraisal of modern pop, hitting all the hallmarks of modern chart music without compromising her identity as a musician.
The songstress has never shied away from the darker topics, covering heartbreak and self-harm in former albums, and in spite of her latest album's modernity it retains this emotional intensity.
The album opener, Hard Rain, starts on familiar ground with sparse Imogen Heap-style vocals over an electro-pop backing, and it soon shows the fruits of this album's collaboration with American hip-hop producers, with trap beats and darkly distorted vocals.
The effect is striking, with Lykke Li's startling, moving vocals interplaying beautifully with the familiarly poppy production. But as the album progresses, we are reminded of the darkness in her music, and the astute album title slides into focus.
Though she borrows the sexy aesthetic of chart music, Lykke Li has cleverly countered it with her moving and challenging lyrical themes.
(Review by Zander Sharp)
JORJA SMITH – LOST & FOUND
"YEAH, like that," Jorja Smith instructs her studio engineers at the opening of Lost & Found. "Sounds cool." That calm assurance and Smith's rich, soulful voice show an artist who, despite being just 20 and on her debut album, has honed her craft over multiple singles and collaborations with the likes of Drake and Stormzy – even if the childish giggle at the end of Teenage Fantasy is a reminder of her tender age.
Smith, who won the Critics' Choice Award at this year's Brits, featured on last year's Artists For Grenfell charity single and her political conscience brings out the best in her.
Her 2016 debut single Blue Lights, a Dizzee Rascal-sampling take on police persecution of people with colour, is perhaps even more distressingly relevant since its original release – all the more so in America, where she performed the song for Jimmy Kimmel on her late-night TV debut.
It remains a standout here and is followed up by Lifeboats (Freestyle), a powerful attack on greed culture and the chasm between rich and poor.
(Review by Tom White)
MY GLASS WORLD – PRISONERS OF GRAVITY
GOOD quality adult pop is thinly-occupied territory. Adele heads the female list and Paul Heaton the male by some margin, but to that list could well be added keyboard player and songwriter Jamie Telford.
Operating under the band name of My Glass World, Telford has produced these 10 tracks (plus a hidden one) of atmospheric and somewhat melancholy pop which cover grown-up concerns rather than merely boy-meets-girl-loses-girl tropes.
The backing musicians appear sensitive to the nuances of the material and don't overwhelm the songs, allowing Telford and his piano to be the main focus.
Don't expect a lively romp, what you have here is a thoughtful collection of slightly world-weary songs that bear serious listening and appreciation.
(Review by Steve Grantham)