Album reviews: Sheryl Crow, Sarah Jarosz, Dum Dum Girls, Snowbird, Haiti Direct

 

Sheryl Crow "Feels Like Home" (Warner Bros)

Shazza has moved operations, lock, stock and double-barrel, to Nashville. There she is, on the cover in a white lace dress, the very image of a buff, energized, super-fit Loretta for the 21st century in waterfall sleeves, with yellow flowers queuing up to serve as maids of honour. What can possibly await within?

Guitars, mainly. Guitars and drums and the tropes of honky-tonk songwriting admitted to the service of an old-skool rockin’ sensibility, both single-coiled and humbucking; country music as envisioned on side two of Exile on Main St or, perhaps more germanely, by Allison Moorer on her brace of early-Noughties R&B-inflected classics: gritty, soulful, clever and governed, muscularly, by the inclinations of the body.

Yet it is also pop music. There is a sheen to the production which echoes the sheen of Sheryl’s skin and the polish of her co-writing (you will never hear a better song about waterproof mascara). There is also a desire to make the tunes not only go the distance but stick like a burr after the distance has been covered, an effect enhanced by Crow’s fiercely generous phrasing. It’s not a great voice but, by George Jones, even when she’s operating at the low end of her dynamic range, she gives you the lot. And she swings.

You will want to hear one of the great kick-back songs of the age, “We Oughta Be Drinkin’”, the aforementioned “Waterproof Mascara” (unlike his daddy, it won’t run) and the heartbreaking “You’re Asking the Wrong Person”.

Feels Like Home is musically conservative, socially ingratiating, politically vulnerable. It is unmistakably a piece of product. But it is also brilliant.

*****

Nick Coleman

Sarah Jarosz "Build Me Up From Bones" (Sugar Hill)

At what point does a child prodigy turn into a talent so exceptional that we no longer talk about age? Sarah Jarosz’s third album answers that question in style (though just for the record, the banjo, guitar and mandolin supremo is now 22).

Originally hailed as a Gillian Welch for the Taylor Swift generation, Jarosz is now a confident enough writer that her songs can encompass styles from the Chris Isaak-ish opener “Over the Edge”, through the “newgrass” of “Fuel the Fire”, to the Joni Mitchell-esque closer “Rearrange the Art”.

The only gripe is in her choice of covers: she adds nothing to Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate” or Joanna Newsom’s “The Book of Right-On”. She doesn’t need other people’s songs. She’s so good it’s scary. 

Simmy Richman

****

Dum Dum Girls "Too True" (Sub Pop)

LA’s Dee Dee Penny namechecks Patti Smith and Baudelaire on the PR for her third Dum Dum Girls album. She might as well have thanked Pat Benatar or Blondie. Penny has garage-rock form, but Too True is a light-footed, echo-heavy pop makeover with a 1980s gloss, frothy but forthright.

Alongside choice production from girl-group godhead Richard (Blondie, the Go-Gos) Gottehrer and the reverb-loving Raveonette, Sune Rose Wagner, a flair for pop brevity is the key. Nods to Rimbaud and nocturnal transgressions hardly deepen Penny’s pitch, but they don’t dilute the direct appeal, either: between the spaghetti-Ladytron surge of “Cult of Love” and  the Divinyls-ish swoon of  “Are You Okay?”, her melodic aim holds true. 

Kevin Harley

***

Snowbird "(Moon)" (Bella Union)

A transatlantic collaboration between former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde in London and Stephanie Dosen in North Carolina. Yet Moon feels unified: his stately piano tamped down with tinkling, ticking percussion and finger-picked or peeling guitar (from an impressive selection of guests), over which Dosen’s vocals drift dreamily.

Their names (of band and album) suit the sound: the chill of snow, the pale glimmer of moonlight. Tracks feature a Beatrix Potter-worthy cast of foxes, mice, owls; the aural equivalent of fey woodland scenes on hipster T-shirts. Moon is bookended by the structurally perfect melodies of “I Heard the Owl Call My Name” and “Heart of the Woods” – but what’s in-between is often too airy-fairy to really grab. 

***

Holly Williams

Various Artists "Haiti Direct: Big Band etc 1960-1978" (Strut)

American art-rock genius Merrill Garbus (better known by her stage name Tune-Yards) recently travelled to Haiti and was inspired by that country’s syncopated rhythms to start work on a new album. But if that stamp of approval doesn’t raise the country’s musical profile a tad, then maybe this superb compilation will.

What comes across most is the sheer unbridled enthusiasm expressed in the complex, racing rhythms, squalling sax solos, twanging electric guitar and crooning vocals. Cuban grooves tend to dominate but rock, soul, jazz, cumbia and funk all get stirred into a contagious rough-edged mix. 

Look, if this music doesn’t get your feet tapping, pulse racing and put a smile on your face, see a doctor. 

*****

Howard Male

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
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.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week