Album reviews: Shakira, Sam Brookes, Anthony Joseph, Band Of Skulls, Johnny Winter

 

Sam Brookes Kairos (Sam Brookes)

With his keening tenor vibrato sailing effortlessly into the upper register, there’s something of  Tim Buckley about Sam Brookes, especially when it’s set among starlight droplets of electric guitar on tracks such as “Breaking Blue”. The sense of powerful fragility is most effective on “Numb”, where over a slouching percussion groove, a lovelorn Brookes regrets his inability to act decisively: “In a maze of indecision, and a drought of action in the mind,” he croons sadly, his voice beautifully framed in an intimate, ambient space. But there are vast emotional reserves at work in songs such as “James” and “Crazy World and You”, the latter featuring birdsong layered into its later stages, duetting with Brookes’ wordless cooings. “I’ll  be the light in your night,” he promises, and he delivers.

****

Download: Numb; Crazy World and You; James; Breaking Blue

Anthony Joseph Time (Heavenly Sweetness/Naïve)

Poet Anthony Joseph’s excellent fifth album is suffused with female influences: not only is it produced by Meshell Ndegeocello, who threads percussion-based grooves around Joseph’s allusive, tightly wrought lyrics, but the tracks are mostly about women. There’s the oppressed rural mother of “Alice of the River”, seeking solace in suicide; the admired subject of “Tamarind”, a “black whip of a woman” whose outer demeanour remains noble no matter her tribulations; Malala Yousafzai, celebrated in “Girl with a Grenade”; and Joseph’s own mother, paid tribute in “Heir”. Elsewhere, echoes of Gil Scott-Heron and Curtis Mayfield can be heard in commentaries like “Hustle to Live” and “Kezi”, while the opening “Time - Archaeology” recalls The Last Poets, with an itchy percussion and organ groove.

****

Download: Time – Archaeology; Tamarind; Hustle to Live; Heir

Band Of Skulls Himalayan (Electric Blues)

“Where we’re going is anyone’s guess,” sing Southampton’s melodic rockers Band of Skulls  on the opening track of their third album, Himalayan – a title that conveys their growing ambition. In that specific case, the chunky robot-rock riff suggests they’re headed to Queens of the Stone Age territory, a route confirmed by the strutting “Brothers and Sisters”; but each track seems to signal some fresh direction, from the title track’s slinky funk undertow to the grandiose soul-rock torment of “Cold Sweat”, which with bassist Emma Richardson taking vocals sounds like a cross between Portishead and Meatloaf. But that element of grandeur becomes more finely honed on “I Guess  I Know You Fairly Well” and the shrilly dramatic “I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying”.

***

Download: Asleep a the Wheel; Cold Sweat; I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead And One Dying

Johnny Winter True to the Blues (Columbia)

The old canard about white men being unable to play the blues was dispelled in dramatic manner by cross-eyed albino Texan guitarist Johnny Winter, whose innate feel and startling technique unsettled even Jimi Hendrix. Winters developed a distinctive blues/rock hybrid, using his snarling, super-fast runs and razoring slide work to thrilling effect on cuts such as “Hustled Down in Texas” and an incandescent cover of “Highway 61 Revisited”. An alliance with wunderkind Rick Derringer brought hits, though Winter was equally adept at dynamic covers of R&B classics, notably a funky “Harlem Shuffle”. This four-disc retrospective tells his story from scuffling Texas roots through to recent work, the septuagenarian’s powers undiminished by time.

****

Download: Hustled Down in Texas; Highway 61 Revisited; Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo; It’s My Own Fault

Shakira Shakira (RCA)

The drawback of having such  a cross-cultural appeal as Shakira is that you’re expected to try and satisfy its every demographic niche, a demand that weakens her first English-language album since 2009’s She Wolf. It’s too schizophrenic in style, darting from  the springy reggae skank of the Rihanna duet “Can’t Remember to Forget You” to the weak country crossover of “Medicine” without completely convincing at any turn. The bouncy electro anthem “Dare (La La La)” is not quite as sexy as hoped, though the subtler acoustic arrangements of “23” and “You Don’t Care about Me” are more successful. The former, a tribute to boyfriend Gerard Piqué which finds her “agnosticism turned into dust” by his blue eyes, may be the sweetest compliment ever paid to a footballer.

***

Download: Can’t Remember to Forget You; You Don’t Care about Me; 23

Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
artSistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence