We take a look at a mixture of new releases from Shed Seven to Tears For Fears and not forgetting Bradley Walsh.
Shed Seven – Instant Pleasures: You would have been forgiven for expecting Rick Witter and co to trade on memories, but this first album in 16 years measures up to much of their Britpop heyday. The cocksure Nothing To Live Down and the lyrical delivery of Butterfly On A Wheel in particular are classically Shed Seven, while there are storming riffs on It’s Not Easy and Star-Crossed Lovers. The single Room In My House is an impressive statement of intent, while People Will Talk finds the York quartet partying like it’s 1999. What is perhaps missing is one of the band’s glorious slow numbers - Better Days does not quite hit the mark and the excellent Hold On To Yourself changes tack into a euphoric chorus, though the closing Invincible somewhat recalls a personal favourite in High Hopes. Tom White
Nick Knowles – Every Kind of People: Nick Knowles (yes, the DIY SOS guy), having kept his singing and guitar-playing talents under the radar for decades, is finally taking a step into the music world with his debut album Every Kind Of People, a collection of covers. Knowles has been bold with his song choices, opting for beloved tracks from the likes of Robert Palmer and Joni Mitchell, and this serves him well. The strikingly deep timbre of his voice works well with so many of them, notably his version of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love and a reworking of Barry White’s My First, My Last, My Everything. There is nothing ground-breaking here, but Knowles offers up an album that will be enjoyed by those wishing to hear familiar songs performed with an as-yet unfamiliar voice. Lucy Mapstone
Bradley Walsh – When You’re Smiling: Were footballer turned actor, comedian and presenter Bradley Walsh an unknown trying to make it in the music industry, it is perhaps unlikely this record would be made. But, following the recent death of Sir Bruce Forsyth, a gap has emerged in the all-round entertainer market and the clamour for his albums will be vast, particularly around Christmas. But is the product good enough for anyone to genuinely pine for the next instalment? Maybe, maybe not. This latest is a classic of the celebrity crooner genre. Big band? Tick. Cruise ship-friendly covers? Tick. Prefacing a musical interlude with “Take it away, lads”? Tick. It’s cliched, but Walsh is not trying to rewrite the rule book. He is, after all, the biggest selling debut artist of 2016. Hackneyed, but inoffensive fun. Ryan Hooper
Tears for Fears – Rule the World: Greatest Hits: Tears For Fears include two newly recorded tracks on this greatest hits record which documents the duo’s high-flying Eighties from The Hurting’s Mad World and Pale Shelter to The Seeds Of Love’s Advice For The Young At Heart (and five singles from Songs From The Big Chair to boot). I Love You But I’m Lost, the first of those new tracks, flaunts a dancefloor sound which could rival any pop artists’ latest attempt at a chart hit. Curt Smith takes the reins for the single, while Roland Orzabal leads on the haunting acoustics of Stay. It is a remarkable effort for a track to feel at ease on a band’s biggest hits record but the latter certainly holds up. With the promise of a whole album of new music round the corner, perhaps some things aren’t always best left alone. Joe Nerssessian
A Cavalier Christmas: It was probably 1645, and the Puritan-influenced English Parliament banned Christmas festivities, though King Charles, now ensconced on Oxford, was intent on celebrating the day. So don’t expect the disc to be brimming full of joy, as the York-based Ebor Singers take us on a journey through music he might have heard that day including the composers Gibbons, Byrd, Lawes and Jeffreys. In every way it is outstanding release, the various soloists from the ensemble of excellent quality, while the Chelys Consort of Viols and organist, David Pipe, bring a discrete presence, the instruments given solo tracks in music by John Jenkins. Beautifully recorded for the Resonus label in York’s National Centre for Early Music. David Denton