Albums: New releases from Rufus Wainwright, The Streets, DMA's and Katherine Jenkins
Rufus Wainwright – Unfollow the Rules
UNFOLLOW The Rules is Rufus Wainwright's ninth studio album and meant to herald the 'second act' of his career.
First single Damsel In Distress, all strings, woodwind and references to Chelsea skies, is a homage to Joni Mitchell and Laurel Canyon, where he now lives, and the classic 70s LA sound, while the title track is a piano-led ballad.
You Ain't Big – "unless you're big in Alabama" – seems a jauntily knowing self-jibe at a singer perhaps more popular in New York and LA, while on Romantical Man he's "got a feeling London is calling me".
The titles of the final three tracks, Early Morning Madness, Hatred and Alone Time hint at the darker times before he became a contented family man.
Despite its title, Wainwright isn't breaking the rules here, with all 12 tracks following a conventional structure, but he's as good a songwriter as is working right now.
The Streets – None of Us Are Getting Out of This Alive
MIKE Skinner hasn't exactly been keeping quiet since he officially reformed The Streets for a greatest hits tour in 2018, having released myriad singles over the pat two years, but this is the first full-length Streets record since 2011; it features 12 tracks with a diverse cast of collaborators.
Lead single Call My Phone Thinking I'm Doing Nothing Better, recorded with Aussie psych-rockers Tame Impala, is as catchy as anything Skinner has written since When You Wasn't Famous.
The Brummie-cum-Londoner has always championed urban talent and often the record is a showcase for them rather than him. Among the highlights are Donae'o and Greentea Peng on the dubby I Wish You Loved You As Much As You Love Him and Jesse James Solomon, a south-east London poet-rapper in some ways made in Skinner's image, whose collab on I Know Something You Did is perhaps the pick of the bunch.
DMA'S – The Glow
THE Aussie Britpop-esque trio are back with their third album, The Glow. Known for their appreciation of The La's, Cast and all the big 90s bands, DMA's have long crafted a soundtrack to the lives of many working-class millennials, this generation's answer to the spirit of Oasis.
They harness the perfect blend of bounce and swagger with an all-encompassing air of restrained softness and authenticity on The Glow, a genre-blurring piece of art.
The band's musicality goes on a tentative adventure into pastures new, experimenting with more techno sounds, orchestral instruments and hip hop beats, while still packing as much of a punch as their earlier LPs.
The one thing that stays true to form though, is Tommy O'Dell's uncanny knack of carrying a whole lot of sincerity throughout the lyrics, yearning and questioning, adding a genuine sweetness, a little vulnerability and romance that was only slightly prevalent before.
Katherine Jenkins – Cinema Paradiso
THERE are few surprises on Cinema Paradiso. In fact, the greatest surprise is that it took Katherine Jenkins so long to record an entire album of songs from the glittering world of film.
The Welsh mezzo-soprano and bona-fide national treasure's 14th studio effort features an array of favourites: Singin' In The Rain features, as does Moon River from Breakfast At Tiffany's and the theme from Schindler's List.
The 'curveballs' come in the form of May It Be from Lord Of The Rings and I'll Never Love Again from 2018's A Star Is Born, where Jenkins channels, rather convincingly, Lady Gaga's heart-broken Hollywood diva.
It's a fun ride, one that feels familiar both because of Jenkins' omnipresence in popular culture and her songs' cultural clout. Jenkins' voice is of course beautiful and she attacks each composition with gusto.
For the casual listener hoping for a dose of nostalgia, packaged neatly by one of contemporary music's most recognisable voices, this is as good as you'll get.