Albums round up: Another Country by Rod Stewart; That Would Be Me by Harry Connick Jr; Back in Time by Judith Hill; Take Your Jacket Off and Get Into It by vangoffey; A Paradise by Gwilym Gold

Another Country by Rod Stewart
Another Country by Rod Stewart
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While Rod Stewart’s distinctive throaty rasp of a singing voice may be back in good working order these days the songwriter who gave us such gems as Maggie May, You Wear It Well and The Killing of Georgie seems sadly absent from his 29th solo album.

Forays into Celtic folk (Love Is), reggae (Love and Be Loved) and proud dad balladry (Batman Superman Spiderman) are a far cry from past glories. Even they though are better than the cheesy nostalgia of Way Back Home.

Only in the ruminative farewell of A Friend For Life does Another Country scale any heights. The rest is sadly best forgotten.

Jazz crooner Harry Connick Jr has stepped outside his normal comfort zone to work with two pop producers, Eg White (Sam Smith, Adele) and Butch Walker (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry), on his latest album.

The resulting That Would Be Me blends concise, radio-friendly adult pop with elements of soul, New Orleans funk and 70s singer song writing.

It’s impeccably arranged and performed – especially his ode to marital fidelity (I Do) Like We Do and the classy shuffle Tryin’ To Matter – but some of the songs could with the same sparkle he and White applied to You Don’t Need A Man, with its dramatic horns and sultry strings.

The daughter of a classical pianist and a bass player who played with Sly Stone and Chaka Khan, Judith Hill has until now been principally known as a backing singer for the likes of Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Josh Groban. She had been due to sing with Michael Jackson at his 2009 dates at the O2 Arena in London; after his untimely death she sang Heal The World at his memorial.

Earlier this year she was one of the artists featured in the Grammy Award-winning film 20 Feet From Stardom, which told the story of singers who have backed some of the musical legends of the 21st century.

Having opened for Prince on his 2015 spring tour, she duetted with him on his song Million $ Show on his recent album HitNRun Phase One. The Purple One has in turn produced Hill’s debut album and his imprint is particularly noticeable in the bump and grind of As Trains Go By, the bustle of Turn Up and the funky gait of My People and Wild Tonight.

Cry Cry Cry is also a standout with its classic, horn-driven soulful sound and Hill imploring that “a change is gonna come”.

The rest is a mix of jazz, Motown and tender ballads which might be less essential but are nevertheless sung with feeling.

“Take your jacket off and get into it” implores Danny Goffey, the former Supergrass drummer over an Ian Dury and the Blockheads-like disco funk groove in Race Of Life, the humorous opening track of his first album under the monicker vangoffey.

Its witty wordplay, likening human reproduction to the machinations of the music industry, is one of the highlights of a scattershot record that’s fun but could do with reining in its all-over-the-place tendencies for the sake of greater coherence.

While there are other choice moments – notably the jaunty psychedelic pop of Alfie Loves the Birds and Supergrass-like tumble of Phil’s Dummy – others tracks such as You, You, You and Episode are underwhelming.

To accompany his last album, Tender Metal, Gwilym Gold unveiled Bronze, a state-of-the-art listening format that ensured it would never sound the same twice.

If there are fewer bells and whistles with A Paradise that’s not to say its ten slices of moody electro don’t reward repeated plays.

Its melancholy is reminiscent of Radiohead’s Kid A; there’s also a melodic grasp and love of airy harmomies that bring both Andy Burrows and Bon Iver to mind.

With contributions from Wild Beasts producer Lexx and James Young of Huddersfield’s Darkstar, this is a record to gently immerse yourself in.

Gwilym Gold supports Ibeyi at Brudenell Social Club in Leeds on November 7. For details visit http://www.brudenellsocialclub.co.uk/whats-on/ibeyi/