albums ANDREW GREENHALGH.
GABRIELLE APLIN - LIGHT UP THE DARK NOW here's a turn-up for the books.
Light Up The Dark almost didn't make it into the CD player, such were my painful memories of listening to a review copy of Ms Aplin's debut English Rain in 2013. Remember the maudlin cover version of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's The Power of Love which soundtracked the 2012 John Lewis advert? That provided the low point of what was an extraordinarily cloying long player. I never want to hear either of them again.
In the intervening two years, she appears to have completely reinvented herself. Single Sweet Nothing, a country-ish rocker like Sheryl Crow but without the bar-room optimism, gives a fair indication of what to expect.
Aplin has a strong, listenable voice. It's a real pleasure to hear it singing some sometimes world weary, sometimes bittersweet songs which suggest that as well as changing tack since 2013, Aplin has been round the block a few times as well.
Like this? Try these: Alison Krauss and Union Station, New Favourite; Wilco, Star Wars rating .....
RICHARD HAWLEY - HOLLOW MEADOWS SHEFFIELDER Hawley is clearly done with reinvention, following 2012's rocktastic Standing At The Sky's Edge.
From side one, track one (Hawley is an artist who sounds like he should only release his music on vinyl), Hollow Meadows marks a return to the modern day crooning which characterised 2005's Mercury Prize-nominated Coles Corner.
The great thing about Hawley is how genuine and trustworthy he sounds. That's whether he's delivering Sinatra-esque ballads, Nick Cave-like meditations on life, Arctic Monkeys-esque gentle rockers, and especially when it feels as if he's whispering in your ear. It all makes for another excellent, brilliantly executed album. Check it out. Like this? Try these: Jarvis Cocker, Jarvis; Hamilton Leithauser, Black Hours rating .....
KWABS - LOVE + WAR SOUTHERN soul man Kwabena Adjepong's debut is a long time coming. He was one of 12 chosen in 2011 by drum 'n' bass superstar Goldie to perform at Buckingham Palace in front of Prince Harry, and then became a YouTube sensation the following year with covers of Corinne Bailey Rae and James Blake.
What's interesting for such a hipster favourite is that although some songs bear the hallmark of collaborators Sohn and Dave Okumu, so many more are very commercial, very 1980s. Occasionally that means revisiting the house music of that much-maligned decade in the same way as Disclosure, Julio Bashmore and Jamie XX, but it also means songs which you sense George Michael and the late Luther Vandross would have been proud to call their own.
Like this? Try these: Luthor Vandross, Give Me The Reason; Jamie XX, In Colour rating .....