U2 Songs Of Experience – 4/5 (Interscope)
Indeed Bono has scarcely sounded more youthful than he does on the opening quartet of tracks, the agile Lights Of Home and Get Out Of Your Own Way both highlights.
The big preachy number American Soul, featuring a “you are/rock ’n’ roll” chant that is frankly beneath them, strikes a bum note, as does the singer wittering on about lost keys and parking spaces on the baffling Landlady.
But The Showman more than makes up for it, Bono sending himself up with aplomb: “I’ve got just enough low self-esteem to get where I want to go.”
ANGE HARDY Bring Back Home – 4/5 (Story Records)
Hardy, who ran away from a children’s home in Somerset as a 14-year-old and lived homeless on the streets of Ireland, has come a long way since her tough early years.
She may just have hit a songwriting peak here with the opening Sister’s Three, an everyday tale of tree-climbing siblings swallowed, literally, by the forest they love.
Blending traditional and modern folk influences, and with a heartbreaking fiddle solo from Peter Knight, it sets the template for an entertaining and highly imaginative sixth album.
MIDGE URE Orchestrated – 4/5 (BMG)
If Ultravox with strings sounds like a layer of melodrama too far, Midge Ure is clever enough to realise it, rationing the big cinematic flourishes in favour of delicacy and dynamics.
Vienna, with a haunting horn arrangement and near-whispered vocal by Ure, is simply magnificent.
One for Christmas night.
JESSICA LEA MAYFIELD Sorry Is Gone – 3/5 (ATO)
Charting the break-up of her “poisonous” marriage, Jessica Lea Mayfield pulls no punches in sticking it to Mr Wrong.
But the Ohio-born singer’s fourth album is as much about redemption as revenge and tracks such as Offa My Hands are both powerful and engaging.
NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS Who Built The Moon? – 2/5 (Sourmash)
Those of us who found little to cheer in Oasis’s lumpen and ugly rock have scarcely been better served by the Gallagher brothers’ solo output.
Noel’s third album marks a new low with cloth-eared production, vocals buried in the mix and the the ugliest guitar sound since Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel.