Album reviews: New from Sara Bareilles, Lissie, Circa Waves, Luke Sital-Singh
Amidst The Chaos
SARA Bareilles is probably the most gifted musician you're not listening to right now. Of course you may be aware of the American singer-songwriter and her previous efforts, including 2007 hit single Love Song, and her work on the mammothly successful Broadway and now West End musical Waitress, for which she wrote the score. But this new album, her first in six years, is possibly her best work yet. Amidst The Chaos is perfectly titled for 2019, and will get you out of a funk. Forget about Brexit, US politics and the generally depressing news cycle and instead soothe your soul with Bareilles' moving vocals and flawless musicality. From jaunty, euphoric and folksy-esque opener Fire, to album closer A Safe Place To Land, a rousing ballad with John Legend, this album has it all. Armor, celebrating the strength of women with a moreish jazzy hook, is a highlight. Bareilles is all about heartfelt, gutsy music with rich pianos and addictive melodies.
When I'm Alone: The Piano Retrospective
AMERICAN songstress Lissie has been around for nearly a decade – it's hard to believe her critically acclaimed debut Catching A Tiger was released in 2010. So she has a lot of material to draw from for her latest album, When I'm Alone: The Piano Retrospective. The album is a collection of some of her greatest hits – When I'm Alone and Castles among them – and it also features a cover of Fleetwood Mac favourite Dreams, as well as The Dixie Chicks tune Cowboy Take Me Away. Doing exactly what it says on the tin, this album is a vibrant ode to Lissie's best-loved songs with just the tinkling of the ivories. The 11-track offering is the perfect combination of her haunting voice set against only a piano. Each song is reimagined and given a new level of depth, making it a delectably easy listen. It is bound to please existing fans and also appeal to newcomers.
What's It Like Over There?
I'M NOT sure what's in the water over in Liverpool, but there is definitely something brewing. Circa Waves are the latest offering of indie rock from the city. What's It Like Over There? is their third album, and seems to possess what could be the key to their mainstream success. What's It Like Over There? isn't your everyday indie rock; it has something more to offer. Of late the genre has been about biting guitar rifts and gritty edges, and this just isn't that. It's rounded and almost mellow. This is the rock you would take home to meet your mother, and I don't mean that in a derogatory way – the production on this takes it to a whole other level. It is rock with heart and soul. Think The Killers crossed with Panic! There are still the anthems like Move that long-time fans will love, but overall this is an album that will significantly increase their fanbase.
A Golden State
POP music is full of songs about places we've never been – Joni Mitchell's Woodstock was composed while watching the festival on TV, and Bristolian songwriter Sital-Singh enjoyed making his LA-inflected album so much that he moved to the City of Angels directly afterwards. There's a sonic mellowness to his new open-hearted work that suggests he'll fit right in, but A Golden State isn't in thrall to good vibes only. Lead single Los Angeles is calm, its lyrics hopeful and wistful about the life that awaits him and his partner. There's truly heartbreaking stuff here too, nowhere more than in The Last Day, where the man considers what'll really matter at the end of his life. Silhouette is a brilliantly written piece that shows off Sital-Singh's guitar textures, but listen closely and it's about being half-alive. The piano-led closing track is affecting, and affirms that these may not be love songs, but they're songs written by one struggling in love.
When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
TEENAGE singer-songwriter Billie Eilish has been making waves since 2015 with her first EP, Don't Smile At Me, and with backing from celebrity musicians and army of online followers, the release of her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? seems set to secure her as this generation's true punk icon. Indeed, this minimalist album has standard textbook punk elements, with lo-fi muttered vocals, clips of conversation, distortion, vibrating bass and muted drums, sounding not unlike a tech-heavy track pumping from another room at a house party. And the important thing to note is that none of the album sounds real. It is evident that Eilish has made use of her laptop to draw up the beats and melodies that weave throughout the tracklist and, while it's miles away from anything organic-sounding, her hushed, soft vocals give the album an oddly acoustic quality. At times the American musician is drowning, and at times there are flashes of hip hop swagger, but the rough feeling is that her carefree vocals don't make the best of her talent. The music is bare and the album ultimately lacks the impact that it could have. However, it seems to be a popular anthem for this generation's youth.