The Critics: RECORDS

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POP

Bernard Butler: People Move On (Creation, CD/LP/ tape). Just the same old excellence we've come to expect from Bernard Butler, really: a classic melody here, some glitter-strewn glam-rock there, and sumptuous arrangements all over the place. The only surprise is the singing, which is a lot better than you'd expect from a man who kept his lips sealed over the course of two albums with Suede and one with David McAlmont. The lyrics aren't up his old colleagues' standards, but they're not bad, and the chance to be tenderly personal has inspired Butler, on some songs, to trade in his Bowie-esque flamboyance for a softer, folkier sound, from the campfire pickings of "You Light The Fire" to "You Got What It Takes", which has the same evening atmospherics as REM's "Sweetness Follows". There are hints of Fleetwood Mac and Tim Buckley, too, so People Move On should go down a bomb in America. It hits the wrong tone only when Butler bewails the hardships of being a rich and famous pop star. On "You Just Know" he demands: "Do you know just how many hands I've had to shake?/ Do you think I know every place I've ever played?" No, Bernard. And we don't care, either. Nicholas Barber

JAZZ

Tommy Smith: The Sound of Love (Linn, CD) The cheesy Valentine's Day- style cover (a pic of Tommy staring into the eyes of his hot dinner-date) conceals a quite remarkable album by the Scottish tenor saxophonist in which the smoochy sound associated with the great Ben Webster is tried on for size - and surprisingly found to fit like a glove. Smith's tone on the tenor is deep, tender and pitted with emotion, the smoky patina of his sound coaxing the last drops of feeling from a repertoire of the most limpid Ellington and Strayhorn songs. With an American rhythm section providing the best possible support, Smith comes across as a true star, inhabiting the sound of his saxophone in a way very few players anywhere in the world are capable of. Phil Johnson

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