Albums: New music from Foo Fighters, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Rufus Wainwright and Noel Gallagher
Rufus Wainwright - Folkocracy
RUFUS WAINWRIGHT in his new album Folkocracy revitalises his past with the assistance of powerful vocalists for a series of earthy duets which draw on the song history of American folk staples.
The multitalented artist, a singer, pianist, songwriter, and composer, began his touring as part of the family folk group The McGarrigle Sisters and before as Wainwright says he “spun off into opera and pop”.
The new record sees Wainwright and folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile’s rendition of the traditional Appalachian murder ballad, Down In The Willow Garden, use the former’s powerful tones and the latter’s sweeter voice to produce a hauntingly poetic interpretation of love gone wrong.
He also keeps his classical style as part of his duet with Chaka Khan with both singing a fervent, heartfelt and at times eerie version of Cotton Eyed Joe.
Throughout the album, which sees him also work with David Byrne, John Legend, Sheryl Crow, and Nicole Scherzinger, the 49-year-old take his enchanting operatic voice and breathtaking piano skills to showcase his folk knowledge as a love letter to his beginnings.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Council Skies
I MUST admit, after hearing the four single releases from Council Skies – Pretty Boy, Easy Now, Dead To The World and the title track, Council Skies – I was very excited to see what the rest of the album had in store, and it does not disappoint.
Easy Now, for me, is the standout track on the album and is sure to be a fan favourite for Noel’s upcoming tour. But the likes of Love Is A Rich Man, with its upbeat tempo and familiar Manchester grunge sound from the Oasis era; the reflective Trying To Find A World That’s Been And Gone – previously released in 2022 alongside We’re Gonna Get There In The End – and the opening track I’m Not Giving Up Tonight which oozes class from start to finish gave me the feeling of nostalgia.
Council Skies is probably Noel Gallagher’s best album since his debut solo record, and I’d even go as far to say that every track on the album would not feel out of place in the post-Morning Glory era of Oasis – and that for me gives the album a lot more edge and familiarity to those Noel Gallagher fans who remember a lot more than his solo work.
Give it a listen, you will not be disappointed.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Hana
SOPHIE ELLIS-BEXTOR’S seventh studio album, Hana, brings dreamy vocals and high energy from its opening notes. The record starts with A Thousand Orchids, a synth driven sensual tune with a clear 80s influence.
The stand out track, Breaking The Circle, has a surprising indie feel to it – it begins with heavy drums and builds to a euphoric song with captivating, drawn out vocals.
Until The Wheels Fall Off carries a similar enchanting aura, but with a much slower beat. But, it begins to feel a little repetitive and dragging with songs like He’s a Dreamer and Lost in the Sunshine. Reflections, however, is a dance tune and has heavy beats, bringing the interest back.
The closing track, We’ve Been Watching You refers back to the opening song with an eighties inspired feel and finally celebrates the fun disco pop of Ellis-Bextor that we all know and love.
Overall, the album may have benefited from Ellis-Bextor leaning into her signature pop style and adding more high-tempo tunes.
Foo Fighters - But Here We Are
FOLLOWING the tragic death of drummer Taylor Hawkins, questions were understandably asked regarding the future of Foo Fighters. Returning with their 11th album, But Here We Are, the band channel their grief to produce a powerfully resilient record.
Frontman Dave Grohl is no stranger to dealing with loss. He willingly confronts the difficult topic throughout the album, Under You sees him proclaim, “I think I’m getting over it, but there’s no getting over it.”
The title track further demonstrates the band’s talent for writing stadium-filling rock anthems, with a chorus that sees Grohl defiantly screaming “But here we are”.
Away from the soaring guitar-centric numbers, there are more contemplative moments such as The Glass, and Show Me How which sees Grohl duet with his teenage daughter Violet to gently ask, “Where are you now?”.
The closing moments of the album are filled with emotion.
Penultimate track, the 10-minute epic, The Teacher culminates with Grohl bellowing “Goodbye”, while closer Rest finds the frontman in a comforting, reflective mood, delicately reassuring, “You can rest now”.
Although born out of personal heartbreak there is no wallowing in self-pity, instead But Here We Are proudly declares that Foo Fighters are very much still here.