wears the trousers magazine

barbra streisand: love is the answer (2009)
October 12, 2009, 9:33 am
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Barbra Streisand
Love Is The Answer •••½

Love Is The Answer is the product of a partnership between Barbara Streisand and acclaimed Canadian jazz star Diana Krall. Given both artists’ pulling power, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the album debuted at #1 in the US Billboard chart, giving Streisand a new record of five decades in which she has scored a chart-topping album, and subsequently soared to the top of the UK countdown this weekend. Fans were bound to welcome the album, having waited four years since Streisand’s last outing, Guilty Too, which saw her rejuvenate her multi-platinum selling 1980 collaboration with The Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb. Since Guilty Too was a firmly (and, perhaps, disappointingly) mainstream album, a return to Streisand’s jazzy, stagey roots makes for a welcome addition to her extensive discography.

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sounding off: april/may 2009 (II)

Part II – reviews of Ora Cogan, Kap Bambino, Diana Krall and Lene Marlin.

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Ora Cogan
Harbouring •••½

Anyone lucky enough to have heard Ora Cogan live will be familiar with the Canadian singer-songwriter’s ability to create a distinctively fragile and haunted atmosphere using only guitar and her voice. Third album Harbouring ambles along the same quiet, contemplative lines as her live sets, though it often feels as if a little bit of magic has been lost in translation. This is a shame, as when Harbouring hits the right notes, metaphorically speaking, it truly soars, sounding like a long-lost cousin of Cat Power’s Moon Pix. This is especially so of the strong second quarter of the album, in which ‘You’re Not Free’, ‘True Heart’, and ‘My Belle’ work beautiful minor chords to devastating effect.

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sounding off: march 2009 (II)

The second batch of March mini-reviews: five more…

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White Flag ••••
Orange Twin

Folky songstress Madeline Adams has collected multifarious comparisons to other musicians online, and even after the shortest of listens it isn’t hard to see why. There seems to be some Regina in there, a bit of Joanna, and definitely more than a touch of Joni. There’s even a hint of ’90s country pop on the titular ‘White Flag’. Fortunately, Madeline’s own personality isn’t lost beneath the tumult.

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madeleine peyroux: bare bones (2009)
March 9, 2009, 4:36 pm
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Madeleine Peyroux
Bare Bones ••••
Universal Classics & Jazz

Back in 2007, The Guardian described French-American jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux as possibly “the purest interpretive jazz-blues singer alive today”. That same year, the famously reclusive Peyroux was awarded Best International Jazz Artist at the BBC Jazz Awards for her critically-acclaimed fourth album, Half The Perfect World. Described by some as a covers album, perhaps unfairly, it nonetheless represented a departure for Peyroux. Whereas her earlier works were dominated by vivid reinterpretations of an assortment of totemic artists’ work, Half The Perfect World featured four original compositions co-written by Peyroux and her long-standing producer, Larry Klein, casting new light on her formidable songwriting abilities. Bare Bones goes further still – Peyroux co-wrote every one of the eleven tracks, making it her most personal work to date.

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jane monheit: the lovers, the dreamers & me (2009)
January 26, 2009, 10:10 am
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Jane Monheit
The Lovers, The Dreamers & Me ••••

The Lovers, The Dreamers & Me is a worthy reminder of why American jazz starlet Jane Monheit has built such a solid reputation since her debut in 2000. Not one to shrink from a challenge, her seventh album covers 13 classic songs originally performed by singers generally more iconic and experienced than her, and she manages to pull it off with panache.

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kylie minogue: boombox (2009)
January 5, 2009, 9:42 am
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Kylie Minogue
Boombox ••

Kylie Minogue’s stellar career needs little introduction. Since her relentlessly cheerful Stock, Aitken & Waterman debut way back in 1987, the diminutive Aussie queen of pop has taken the world by storm. Despite a relatively low-charting mid-’90s career, since 2000’s Light Years and its blockbusting single ‘Spinning Around’, Kylie has cemented her reputation as a truly eclectic and in-demand pop performer. Now, after seven ‘greatest hits’ albums and two other major compilations, she has seen fit to release that other stock-in-trade of legendary singers – a remix album. (She’s had others of course, mostly only in Australia, but this one concentrates purely on her 21st century output.)

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trost: trust me (2008)
November 2, 2008, 9:57 pm
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Trust Me ••••

German duo Cobra Killer (comprising Gina V D’Orio and Annika Line Trost) have an enviable reputation for turning out rich, creepy punk-electronica, drenched with Teutonic sophistication and continental allure. If you’ve not heard them, pay a visit to their Myspace and have a listen – I dare you to try to dislike them. Committed though she is to Cobra Killer, back in 2006 Trost released her second solo album, Trust Me, in her homeland. It’s taken long enough, but that album finally hits these shores this month, and be assured that it’s been worth the wait. If you liked Cobra Killer’s subversive, bassy sound, you’ll like Trost’s stuff all the more.

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