Purveyors of Caledonian soul music since 1990, Texas mark their 25th anniversary by reworking their biggest hits with the New York production team Truth and Soul, whose past clients and collaborators include Adele, Amy Winehouse and Lee Fields.
Singer Sharleen Spiteri declared the band’s intention was to “strip the songs back and perform them in a different way”, adding Truth and Soul had looked at their songs with “fresh eyes”.
Yet for all the skill and tastefulness in these horn-heavy arrangements, it’s hard to shake the impression that this album is the sound of a band playing it safe.
Pleasant though the likes of Halo and The Conversation are, there’s little attempt to deconstruct them or nudge them in a new direction. Only the new reggae lilt to Summer Son pushes the envelope.
25 as a whole could have challenged expectations more.
The real Northern Soul deal can be found in The Odyssey, a magnificent eight-CD box set from the specialist reissue label Harmless.
An exhaustive collection includes Twisted Wheel, Golden Torch, Blackpool Mecca and Wigan Casino favourites from such artists as Darrell Banks, The O’Jays, Archie Bell and the Drells, Jerry Williams, Gloria Jones and Terry Callier.
Northern Soul aficionado Ian Dewhirst curated the project while Mike Riston, publisher of Manifesto magazine, lent his vast knowledge of the 45-year-old scene to an accompanying booklet.
Complete with two DVDs, one of which features and interview with enigmatic record dealer John Anderson, this is as impressive an overview of the Northern Soul phenomenon that you are likely to find.
A former drummer with the Icelandic hardcore band Fighting S***, Olafur Arnalds subsequently found his niche in neoclassical electronic music.
His slow, moody work has enhanced the atmosphere in films such as The Hunger Games and Gimme Shelter.
Television writer Chris Chibnall, a longtime fan, approached Arnalds to score his police procedural drama Broadchurch in 2013. It subsequently won a Bafta and a digital EP was streamed 2.5 million times on Spotify and Deezer.
This full album, like the series itself, is chilly and pensive, with an undertow of dark foreboding.
Olafur Arnalds performs at the Howard Assembly Room on Friday, February 27.
Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle’s sweet harmonies may sound like they come from deepest Tennessee but in fact the duo hail from England’s Home Counties.
Major label Decca was so impressed that it’s revived its Nashville imprint, previously reserved for country queens such as Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton.
The Shires acknowledge their American influences early on in this album. “We can build our own Nashville under these grey skies/People will come from far and wide.” But also fly the flag for their homeland in the song Made in England.
It’s instantly likeable – Friday Night is a particularly catchy end-of-the-working-week anthem, Jekyll and Hyde rocks convincingly too.
What’s perhaps missing is the heartache that the similar-sounding Civil Wars used to essay so well. Nonetheless Brave is a solid and melodic debut.