Having made her name following a Sandy Denny tribute concert in 2008, Mary Epworth spent four years revitalising the kind of psychedelic pop singer the late 60s created so well. The resulting feral stomp of ‘Black Doe’ was play-listed at 6 Music and Radio 2 and introduced a fiery raw talent.
Two things that we've never met anyone who dislikes – The Muppets and the Flight of the Conchords. As such, it was almost inevitable that Conchord Bret McKenzie's writing of songs for the recent Muppets movie was guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of most right-thinking fans of puppets and well-pitched parody songs.
The last work of a crumbled genius, recorded in the year before his death, some 30 years after his last great work.
It was meant to have ended with punk. But the much-maligned musical genre, with its protracted guitar solos and pretentious album titles, is back. So do you know your Atomic Rooster from Van Der Graaf Generator? Let Jonathan Brown be your guide
'Uncle B was my dad; we named our debut album after him, as he died just before we got our latest record deal.'
Before he passed away this week at the age of 60, the singer and guitarist John Martyn had cheated death many times. A former heroin user and lifelong alcoholic who suffered numerous injuries in falls, he also seemed to treat being shot at, pancreatic failure, and a broken neck sustained when his car collided with a bull as occupational hazards.
Nine Lives continues in the vein of 2003's About Time, with Steve Winwood still mining a catalogue of bland homilies regarding such things as hope, faith and persistence for songs such as "I'm Not Drowning", "Fly" and "We're All Looking".
More happily, the album also extends his association with the jazz guitarist José Pires de Almeida Neto, whose neat, interior-sprung figures furnish the hooks to many of these songs, lending a cyclical, desert-blues feel to "I'm Not Drowning", a Pablo-style soukous tinge to "Hungry Man", and a samba-pop flavour to "Secrets" and "At Times We Do Forget". Lyrically, Winwood is more effective on the dystopian social unease in pieces such as "Hungry Man" and "Dirty City", but the album's too awash in new-age blather: the effect is to skew the arrangements too much towards dinner-party blue-eyed soul, somewhere between Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, particularly when the flimsy, fusion-lite sax appears. He can still deliver even the limpest of lines with compelling conviction, for all that.
I am studying my contractual rights as an opera singer, so I am reading a lot of legal books, covering all of Europe. I read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I've always been interested in philosophical and religious themes in books, and I studied these subjects at university. I enjoyed the way the author put Mary Magdalene back in the spotlight because the importance of the role of women in the Church is often ignored.