Album reviews: Adam Lambert, Beth Hart, Noel Gallagher, Kristin Chenoweth

Adam Lambert EP Velvet: Side A
Adam Lambert EP Velvet: Side A

Adam Lambert

Velvet: Side A (EP)

US SINGER-songwriter Adam Lambert's new EP (one of two) Velvet: Side A is dripping with glitter and soul and pop and funk and R&B and dance and everything else this former American Idol star could possibly throw at it, but without the tracks becoming too over-worked and clunky. Four years since the release of his last studio album The Original High, it has felt a long time coming for fresh tunes from Lambert, who has spent much of his time in recent years touring with Queen. This is a very un-Queen offering, a personal expression of what he really does do best: to give the listener no option but to dance. Stranger Are You is a jazzy heady, concoction, while Ready To Run is fronted with a scuzzy guitar sound over a funky beat, music that gets right into your veins. After five full-throttle tracks, Lambert winds down with the epic closer Closer To You, showing off the full range of his vocals.


Lucy Mapstone

Beth Hart

War In My Mind

WITH a career spanning a quarter of a century, Beth Hart's ninth album War In My Mind sees the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter bare her soul. Bad Woman Blues is a punchy opener, firing warning signs as she sings, branding herself as the queen of pain. This bad-ass attitude is stripped back in the title track, which soars into a soul-searching ballad flaunting Hart's unique voice. This building of emotion flourishes into Let It Grow, a poignant anthem with choral backing singers that explores Hart's addiction-troubled years. Sugar Shack picks up the tempo while Try A Little Harder brings back the swagger found in earlier tracks. We're brought back to a piano-led ballad with the closing track I Need A Hero, as if to remind listeners of the raw emotion and power Hart carries with her voice. Strong tracks like Let It Grow carry the album but it feels disjointed at times and lacks delivery as a complete project.


Emma Bowden

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

This Is The Place (EP)

NOEL Gallagher's High Flying Birds' second EP of 2019 contains a quintet of tracks barely recognisable as being penned by the former Oasis hit factory. This Is The Place, released earlier this year and named after Tony Walsh's post-terror attack poem, kicks things off with a 90s electronic glow. It sounds very Manchester, but is more Happy Mondays and Chumbawamba than Cigarettes & Alcohol. Newly released A Dream Is All I need does have a few more harmonies, but with a retro 60s vibe, while Evil Flower is a bevvy of rocky riffs you can dance to. A couple of remixes you'll probably never play round off the mini-album. Overall, the three main tracks are good quality, but they're not going to set the world alight. Stick them on in the background while drinking G&Ts at home on a Friday night. Make mine a double, then get the Britpop back on.


Claire Spreadbury

Kristin Chenoweth

For The Girls

DESPITE having a Tony and an Emmy on her CV, actor and vocalist Kristin Chenoweth is not a household name in the UK even after a recent appearance on ITV's All Star Musicals. However, collaborations with Dolly Parton, Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson may draw new fans to listen to Chenoweth's seventh album which pays tribute to female singers who have influenced her. I Will Always Love You, performed with Parton who wrote the track, is the stand-out song, harking back to Parton's original country version rather than Whitney Houston's cover. Grande joins Chenoweth for a pleasant version of You Don't Own Me, first released by Lesley Gore in 1963, while Hudson and country singer Reba McEntire arrive for a spirited rendition of I'm A Woman, popularised by Peggy Lee in 1962. There is no doubt that Chenoweth has a fantastic voice but perhaps the problem with covers of classic songs is that it's often hard to beat the originals.


Beverley Rouse