Let's once more crack open the wine cellar of new album releases. Which albums are a perfectly stored Chateau Margaux served at dusk overlooking the vineyard? Which are served in a plastic bottle on a park bench surrounded by syringes and broken dreams? Let's find out...
In what is a great week for new releases, we are going to start with one that I desperately wanted to be this week's feature album – Triplicate by Bob Dylan. Unfortunately, Spotify was only able to provide me with a 10 track sample and I felt it unjust to judge the work of a Nobel Prize winner (we can say that now) on a small cross-section of his work. Like Shadows In The Night and Fallen Angels before it, Triplicate delves into the Great American Songbook with Dylan taking time away from his 'Never Ending Tour' to hop into a studio and cover some mid-twentieth century classics.
The album is split over 3 discs, each presented thematically, entitled 'Til The Sun Goes Down, Devil Dolls and Comin' Home Late. The arrangements are stunning and hearing Dylan's remarkably underrated rich voice breathe new life into the songs of Frank Sinatra, Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer sent chills through me. I would, however, say my overriding feeling was one of disappointment. There doesn't seem to be a lot of Dylan in this Dylan album. His Nobel prize was awarded for “new poetic expressions” yet the catalogue of work being produced now seems limited to cover albums and reissues/lost recordings. His last truly great album, barring his Christmas exploits, was 2006's Modern Times which was a songwriting and recording masterclass. I only hope we see that Dylan return sooner rather than later.
I struggle now to listen to Nelly Furtado's 2000 smash hit I'm Like A Bird without thinking of the parody song that my brother and I submitted to Radio 4's Dead Ringers, the entire content of which was “I'm Thora Hird, I only drink Earl Grey”. Surprisingly, it never made it on the air. Despite this, I went on to be quite a fan of Furtado, right up until her third studio album Loose which, despite having its moments (Say It Right, All Good Things), over-reached and seriously under-delivered. The real highlight of her career thus far was second album Folklore which dipped into Furtado's Portuguese roots whilst maintaining quite a dark edge. The Ride is her sixth studio album and her first for five years.
Focussing almost exclusively on break up tracks, I found The Ride to be quite hit and miss. Opening track Cold Hard Truth is a solid anthemic ode to independence. Flatline, a comparison of a broken heart to a medical emergency, feels like quite a lazy metaphor. Furtado channels a little Cyndi Lauper on Live and Pipe Dreams really does feel like a return to form. There are just too many forgettable tracks, words and melodies that feel thrown together rather than organically grown. Nelly Furtado feels like an artist at a crossroads. It would be amazing to see her roll back the years rather than become another 'do you remember?' musician.
Fans of music may not know who Martellus Bennett is, fans of American Football definitely will. Super Bowl champion in January with the New England Patriots, it would be wrong to write Martellus, recently signed as a Green Bay Packer, off as another stereotypical sports star. Alongside his on-field endeavours, he runs a production company called The Imagination Agency, has released a kids book entitled 'Hey A.J., It's Saturday' featuring his daughter as the lead character and was named one of Forbes' 30 sports people under 30 to watch. Let's be honest, can anyone imagine John Terry achieving any of those things? Although I'm Not A Rapper But Some Of My Friends Are... is technically an EP, if you can't bend the rules for Martellus then who can you bend them for?
For a 19 stone guy who spends a significant portion of his life repeatedly smashing into other 19 stone guys, Martellus is pretty handy on the microphone. Over an ominous baseline on opening track Dinosaurs And Dinomite, Bennett heralds in the new world revolution with a hesitancy, urging us to “run, fast as you can” - perhaps a little more context behind his recent decision not to join up with the rest of the Patriots on their White House visit in April. Whole Foods is an intelligent way of charting the rise of a kid who used to sell sweets to classmates to a highly-paid athlete whose career relies on him only eating the best. Closing track Shaqfu continues this theme in an homage to entrepreneurial spirit. It may only be an EP right now but I think I'm Not A Rapper But Some Of My Friends Are... is a clear indication that we will be hearing from Martellus Bennett long after his playing days are done.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Martellus scores a touchdown
Furtado no go
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