All the latest new releases including Emeli Sande and Sting,
Emeli Sande – Long Live the Angels: Is Emeli Sande bored? A lot of Long Live The Angels comes off as a singer still looking around. Her voice is as beautiful as ever, nailing that echoey soul sound, but overall it’s a bit committee-built. This might be because of the album’s structure, telling the story of Sande’s renewal after her divorce, with a subdued first half giving way to a livelier second. Fine on paper, less so when individual songs don’t land. Give Me Something is tired and laid back, while Hurts, the album’s first single, tries too hard with its clapping and manic violins. But then she pulls out something amazing: I’d Rather Not is spine-chilling and Breathing Underwater is an emotional earworm. Sande is undeniably talented, shame that here she rarely finds her full footing. By Tom Chapple
Arborist –Home Burial:That Arborist named their debut album after DIY interment is a clue to its tone – this isn’t a summer party album. But the Belfast band’s luscious mix of harmonies, guitars and strings bringing strong flavours of Americana and melodic indie together into an aural road trip.
The band’s cult following has not been hurt by the support of Pixies and Breeders’ icon Kim Deal, who lends her vocals to Arborist’s 2015 debut single, Twisted Arrow, featured here. The themes of death, ageing and family might, when read in the cold light of day, seem bleak in the extreme. But Mark McCambridge and co have put together a collection of songs with a strong vein of soul through them. By David Wilcock
Olly Murs –24 Hours: If any solo artist shows how to make a success of The X Factor, it’s got to be Olly Murs. This is his fifth album since he came second in talent show in 2009. 24 Hrs is a catchy collection of radio-friendly pop, detailing the trials and tribulations of ‘luurrve’ – squarely aimed to please his legions of fans. If you didn’t like his previous work, this is unlikely to convert you. First single and album opener You Don’t Know Love sets the tone for a slightly more broken-hearted Olly, Grow Up and 24 Hrs address failed relationships, while the lyrics to Read My Mind and Unpredictable focus on flings rather than finding The One. Of course, even the ballads come with earworm choruses, but with stripped-back closer Flaws, Olly shows he still has a great voice under all that production. By Natalie Bowen
Sting –57th & 9th: This album from the youthful looking Sting would be retro if it wasn’t Sting still being Sting.
Now 65, his voice has the same gravelly yearning it did way back in the Eighties, when he was the lead singer with the Police. In fact, he’s heavily reliant on his earlier sound, with little experimentation except for rockier riffs. Hardcore swooning Sting fans will no doubt be content. If You Can’t Love Me has a velvety, bluesy feel to it, despite the bleak lyrical content (“How can I live in this broken world?”), Down, Down, Down sets a strange, melancholy pace while Inshallah, overlaid with keening strings, talks at winding length of the war in Syria. A motley collection. By Ella Walker
Mendelssohn/Schumann Violin Concertos: Schumann’s Violin Concerto has remained deep in the shadow of Mendelssohn’s concerto written at much the same time, though in this new release the soloist, Carolin Widmann, points to Mendelssohn’s debt to Mozart, while Schumann’s rugged strength looks forward to Brahms. Her account ideally captures the tender moments though never short-changing the massive mood swings that come from the composer’s tortured mind. It goes to the top of the leaderboard of the few available recordings, though I have the feeling that by giving the score its required preparation time, the Mendelssohn has been left to ‘look after itself’, and joins a myriad of equally likeable lyric readings. The playing of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe only reinforces that view. By David Denton