“One day you’ll make somebody so happy/But it won’t be me,” sighs Rod Thomas forlornly in I Wish We Were Leaving, the lead single from the Neath electro-pop connoisseur’s second album.
Having impressed Sir Elton John with his debut record, Make Me Believe in Hope, released independently in 2012 and nominated for the Welsh Music Prize, Pinner’s finest has added his familiar baritone to the track and also took him on his recent arena tour as an opening act.
The experience – and exposure – should stand fledgling singer-songwriter Thomas in good stead. Life Is Easy is a honeyed collection of songs with hints of 90s rave and a general warmth of human spirit.
Having perhaps temporarily sated his appetite for synth-rock bombast with the 2012 reunion of Ultravox, Band Aid co-founder Midge Ure opts for gentle understatement in his first album of self-penned solo material in 13 years.
If his whisper-in-the ear vocal on opening track I Survived is barely recognisable from the soaring pomp of Vienna or Dancing With Tears in My Eyes, the 60-year-old Scot’s gift for writing melodies and lyrics that linger long in the mind remains undimmed – nowhere more so than the earworm Become with its insistent chorus “Take the chance/To become/Time to go/Time to leave/To believe what you believe in/Make the change/To become”.
Moby sprinkles a little electronic stardust on Dark, Dark Night and there are shades of the Moody Blues and even Pink Floyd in the album’s atmospheric title track. A memorable addition to an already fine body of work.
Formed ten years ago by John Spiers and Jon Boden, Bellowhead have become contemporary British folk music’s most popular band. They’ve won eight prizes at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and now boast an 11-piece line-up that recently signed to the major label Island.
Revival is their fifth album and it’s a catchy-as-they-come selection of traditional folk songs and sea shanties given rousing modern treatment with brass, keyboards and electric guitars.
The Richard and Linda Thompson number I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight may lose some of its bittersweet charm in Bellowhead’s uptempo makeover but if you’re looking for a stirring, life-affirming pick-me-up of a record, this is just the thing.