If Scott Walker’s career since Nite Flights has felt like a long dark night of the soul, Soused is perhaps its apogee.
A five-track collaboration with US drone metal band Sunn O))), it has a mood of brooding tension worthy of a horror film, occasionally punctured by dissonant guitar chords, industrial bass lines or ear-splitting feedback.
In keeping with Walker’s long established preference for unusual modes of percussion, a bullwhip is employed on one track, elsewhere he recorded the sound of four foot long machete blades clashing.
Yet unlike The Drift and Bisch Bosch there are glimmers of melody too, particularly in the expansive opening track Brando which is as close to a conventional rock song as Walker has come in 30-odd years.
In among the references to beating and garrotting there are fleeting dashes of humour including a somewhat surprising deconstruction of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s My Favourite Things. Maybe there’s a little of the romantic still left in Scott Walker after all.
Ten albums in, Andy Burrows remains as melodic as ever. Fall Together Again is, like its predecessor Company, packed with earworms that’ll tunnel their way into the BBC Radio 2 mid-morning schedules.
Like virtually all of his work since leaving Razorlight, it owes a debt to 70s soft rock – a little Paul McCartney here, some ELO there, even, in the case of Who Are You Now?, Lindsey Buckingham-era Fleetwood Mac.
Burrows actually recorded this album in an isolated studio in North Wales in the middle of winter, but a summery feel pervades its big bright choruses. Even its quieter moments, Hearts and Minds and Don’t Be Gone Too Long, have a poppy sweetness to them. Indeed the only dolorous note is provided by Burrows’ old friend Tom Smith of Editors, whose plaintive baritone makes a guest appearance in Watch Me Fall Again.
Titled after a quote from her father, the revered Arkansas poet Miller Williams, Down Where The Spirit Meets the Bone is alt-country singer Lucinda Williams’ 11th album in a career spanning more than three and half decades.
Gritty and full of soul, its 20 songs over two discs mix tales of heartache and woe with an indignation at the state of the world.
East Side of Town addresses ineffectual politicians (“You think you’re Mister Do-Good/But you don’t know what you’re talking about/When you find yourself in my neighbourhood/You can’t wait to get the hell out”). West Memphis is about the framing of an innocent man for the murder of three boys. Foolishness rages against fear-mongers and liars (“You can try to scare me down/But I know how to stand my ground”).
Burning Bridges is a Springsteen-like rocker that could well be Williams’ most commercial moment to date but it’s her observations on matters of the heart in gentler songs such as Wrong Number and Temporary Nature (Of Any Precious Thing) that strike the deepest emotional chord.
“But love can never, never live/Without the pain, the pain of loss,” she suggests. Well, quite.