Albums: New releases from Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Low Island and Ed Cosens
PAUL MCCARTNEY – MCCARTNEY III IMAGINED
FEW artists have the raw pulling power to bring together the kind of celebrity cabal present on McCartney III Imagined. Damon Albarn, Beck, Josh Homme and Massive Attack's 3D sit alongside talented newcomers Phoebe Bridgers, Blood Orange and worldly Texas rockers Khruangbin on what is essentially a remix album. But what a remix album.
McCartney III, the third in a trilogy of homemade albums stretching back to 1970, won widespread critical acclaim upon release in December. There are tracks on Imagined that live up to, even exceed, their original versions.
The record itself feels uniform in a way remix albums nearly never do, despite each artist bringing their own unique slant to their track. Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien and producer Paul Epworth produce a tough-as-nails rock and roll version of Slidin', while US indie sensation Bridgers brings new meaning to the lyricism of Seize The Day.
McCartney shows off his talent for curation on this accomplished compilation.
TAYLOR SWIFT – FEARLESS (TAYLOR'S VERSION)
TAYLOR Swift's Fearless (Taylor's Version) is a 26-track offering born out of bitter rivalry. The release marks the start of Swift's journey to reclaim her back catalogue from private equity firm Shamrock Holdings.
There's something delightfully paradoxical about Swift tactically re-recording her teenage material, whose words on love and loss feel so gloriously pure and untarnished, all in order to outmanoeuvre business minds attempting to line their pockets at her expense.
2008's Fearless marked the beginning of a country-pop crossover that would propel the 11-time Grammy winner towards international stardom. Thirteen years later, the original 19 tracks are accompanied by six previously unreleased recordings and soundtrack tune Today Was A Fairytale.
It's a labour of love that stays true to the original album in every way. Melding acoustic guitars with dancing banjos and pop sensibilities, Swift even tracked down a number of the original album's musicians in the name of authenticity.
The result stands as testament to Swift's timeless songwriting prowess.
Danielle de Wolfe
LOW ISLAND – IF YOU COULD HAVE IT ALL AGAIN
IF YOU Could Have It All Again has been a long time coming for Low Island, who have released their debut album after several years of building up a sizable following with a handful of singles and EPs.
The Oxford quartet, who formed in 2016, have honed their electronic indie pop sound in a polished and assured new release, which displays a wide range of styles. The band cite influences including Talking Heads, Caribou and Glass Animals, all of which can be heard in the album.
For the most part, If You Could Have It All Again has a melancholy, reflective feel with tracks such as In Your Arms and Momentary. However, What Do You Stand For and Don't Let The Light In show off the band's livelier side with punchy tunes and danceable rhythms.
The overall effect looks sure to please their growing fanbase, who will not want to be kept waiting quite so long for group's second album.
ED COSENS – FORTUNES FAVOUR
AFTER 15 years as guitarist in Reverend And The Makers, Ed Cosens is stepping out of the shadow of frontman Jon McClure. Despite Cosens' songwriting contributions, the Sheffield band has always been a vehicle for McClure's creative impulses, with live sets dotted with his jaunty poetry, delivered in the style of John Cooper Clarke.
So, it is certainly a good thing Cosens is going it alone on this 10-track effort, taking in moody saloon bar ballads (album opener Running On Empty) and soaring bubble-gum choruses (the title track).
Cosens is cut from the same cloth as Arctic Monkeys and that sensuous, evocative rock sound is inescapable here. Little new ground is broken, but Cosens has a soulful voice that more than complements the record's growling, slow-motion guitar solos and introspective lyrics.
For fans of the genre, this will be a fulfilling listen.