New Album Releases: Laura Veirs, The Shires, Manic Street Preachers and The Velvet Hands
It’s a theme that resonates through the 12 warm and gloriously melodic tracks here, each bursting with small detail: “No fear, no confusion, just a slither of the moon” as she sings on The Meadow, the album’s most ineffably beautiful song.
The style is country, folk, broadly Americana, Viers’s voice sometimes soft, high and soaring, at other times as robust and rich as Joni Mitchell’s. Hear it once and she’ll be your new favourite singer.
Rating: 5/5 – Album of the Week
The Shires – Accidentally On Purpose
Hailing from the English shires of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes have already put homegrown country music on the map with two huge-selling albums.
Their third is even more assured, a smart blend of modern Nashville style and pop rhythms centred on some superb harmony singing.
Sleepwalk, with Earle’s husky vocal gently breaking over the melody, is a terrific love song; Speechless, on which Crissie takes solo lead, a fiendishly unforgettable ballad worked around the repetition, ironically, of the phrase “words, words, words…”.
Manic Street Preachers – Resistance Is Futile
Hugely passionate, cinematic in scale, The Manics’ sound was perfected on the 1996 single A Design For Life – a template brought bang up to date here with opening track People Give In and the skidding, skating guitars of International Blue.
Elsewhere James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire try just a little too hard to find variations on the formula, doing so brilliantly with the mournful, Beatles-like, Vivian – its very untypical chorus driven by 1960s beat guitar – but less successfully with Dylan & Caitlin, their surprisingly conservative tribute to poet Dylan Thomas and his wife.
The Velvet Hands – Party’s Over
Barely out of their teens, this London/Cornish quartet have updated punk rock with genuine verve and swagger.
Party’s Over hits like a train full of riffing guitars and barely lets up. Terrific.
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