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THE LAST KING PAT DAM SMYTH HHHH H SEVEN years after his debut solo album, the Northern Irish singer-songwriter returns with an outstanding follow-up.

His smoke-stained vocals and songwriting knack conjure Leonard Cohen vibes, with lyrics drawn from the darkest places but wrangled into accessible and hook-laden shapes. Some of Smyth's more ill-advised drug-fuelled episodes are referenced on Goodbye Berlin and Dancing, and while this is by no means a political album, the idea of a hopelessly lost "Last King" ruling in confusion while his empire dwindles around him is unavoidably on the nose for current times. The one criticism could be that the album is a bit "samey", making the rockier interludes on Kids and Juliette a welcome change of pace.

LIGHTHOUSE FAMILY BLUE SKY IN YOUR HEAD HHHH H IT TAKES courage to come back into the fray after 18 years away. The Lighthouse Family have done exactly that, returning with their easy listeningmeets-anthemic pop style and their trademark lofty-sounding song titles following a sizeable hiatus.

Songwriter and producer Paul Tucker and singer Tunde Baiyewu said they wanted to make a classic Lighthouse Family album that worked for 2019, and they may have actually done it.

From the title track to enigmatic album closer Immortal, it's obvious Tucker and Baiyewu have recaptured the magic of their former days, their music oozing chilled-out charisma with occasional moments of singalong-friendly euphoria.

JULIA MICHAELS INNER MONOLOGUE PART 2 HHHH H JULIA MICHAELS is having a moment. On the cusp of what promises to be a stellar career, the American singersongwriter - who has collaborated with the likes of Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes, and written songs for Bieber, Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Linkin Park and Little Mix - has released her new EP. If proof is needed that someone who cut their teeth as a pop songwriter can transfer those talents into their own work, this is it.

Songs such as Falling For Boys, about "falling for boys and mistaking 'em for men" will resonate with pretty much anybody who has ever been in a relationship.

Vocally Michaels may not be up there with the great pop divas, but that's irrelevant when the quality of the songwriting is this good.

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Publication:Chester Chronicle (Chester, England)
Date:Jul 11, 2019
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