Album reviews: Catherine McGrath, Now! 100, All Saints, Iggy Pop & Underworld
Talk Of This Town
CATHERINE McGrath is a young, up-and-coming country singer from Co Down with addictive, well-produced tunes and a flawless, twangy pop voice, so Taylor Swift comparisons are going to be inescapable. The 21-year-old is doing her best to break through this new wave of country-pop music and, while the debut album is not particularly avant-garde, fair play to her for tackling the monopolised American genre. The album was recorded in London and Nashville, and the latter's influence is felt. A palatable combination of guitar-fuelled pop and light-hearted folksy country and western, the record includes a duet with US singer Hunter Hayes, Don't Let Me Forget, one of the highlights. This is undeniably a worthy effort for someone hoping to put their stamp on the country music scene but that stamp is a little bit Swift-shaped. Let's hope her second album – there will be one, McGrath is clearly a star in the making – is slightly more unique. She has so, so much more to offer, that much is clear.
Now That's What I Call Music! 100
IT'S been described as the original mixtape, and to celebrate the 100th album, the people behind the Now That's What I Call Music! juggernaut have compiled some corkers. Most music lovers remember their first Now purchase. For the early batch of Now fans, the second disc's track-listing will definitely be the most appealing one. Crammed with old school favourite's like UB40's Red Red Wine, Wet Wet Wet's Love Is All Around and the Spice Girls' Wannabe, it'll have you reminiscing back to earlier (better?) music times. The first disc is a snapshot of a more current music scene – post-Spotify, Apple Music and the like – with artists including Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris and Ariana Grande making the cut. For an exemplary mix of the old and new, you cannot go wrong with this album.
THE second step in the 1990s R&B girl group's comeback following 2016's Red Flag, Testament is the fifth album from the talented voices responsible for some of the biggest tunes of their era. Melanie Blatt, Shaznay Lewis, and Nicole and Natalie Appleton's new record justifies their spot in pop history. It's perhaps not quite as big-league as their work way back when, but the album is decent effort filled with tracks that hit the spot from the English-Canadian foursome. There's an instant familiarity on the record, their voices blending together in that identifiable All Saints manner. Much of the record seems somewhat throwback, their style largely unchanged. They are not stuck in the past, though – Testament is, erm, testament to the fact that their sound – best described as pop tinged with R&B and soft electronica – is timeless. They've also reunited with William Orbit for two tracks, After All and Testament In Motion, adding a double dose of nostalgia for listeners who crave that beguiling combination of bewitching beats and ethereal melodies.
Iggy Pop And Underworld
Teatime Dub Encounters EP
WHAT do Iggy Pop and Underworld have in common? Quite a lot actually. They're both acts that deserve their status as legends, pushing the boundaries of the genres they work in. Neither act has let age be a barrier (how can Underworld frontman Karl Hyde be in his 60s?!) – and their work is as edgy now as it was in their youth. And of course, both acts featured on the Trainspotting soundtrack, their music opening and closing the film. It was T2 Trainspotting, the sequel, that helped inspire their new collaborative EP, Teatime Dub Encounters. At nearly 30 minutes long, it's a lengthy but solid piece of work. The highlight is definitely Bells And Circles, premiered to a surprised audience at the BBC Biggest Weekend in Belfast. Pop recounts getting high in more ways than one on a plane while trying to pull an air hostess, before Hyde joins in with an anthemic chorus.
Cage To Rattle
SOMETIMES there can be a question about longevity when you're five albums down the line, but Daughtry have answered perfectly with the release of a 10-track stunner. Titled Cage To Rattle, the band are back with an offering that has had the magic touch of producer Jacquire King, whose credits include Kings Of Leon, James Bay and Niall Horan, with the band's singer and guitarist Chris Daughtry as co-writer. Heaven and Backbone are impressively catchy album openers, while Deep End and As You Are stay with you long after you've finished listening. There are plenty of other songs that will hold their own on music charts too – Death Of Me, Stuff Of Legends and more.