The Herald Magazine - - Arts MUSIC -


Wan­derer Domino Records

HAV­ING come of age dur­ing the grunge and Riot Gr­rrl move­ments of the early 1990s and found kin­dred spir­its among New York’s avant-garde ex­per­i­men­tal­ists, Cat Power is now a vet­eran ex­po­nent of a brand of barbed, con­fes­sional, left­field song­writ­ing which has since drawn many younger women into its slip­stream. An­nie Clark (aka St Vin­cent) and Mer­rill Gar­bus (Tune-Yards) are just two.

Power’s first stu­dio al­bum in six years fol­lows 2012’s Sun, though where that al­bum was an­i­mated and ex­pan­sive, ripe with in­stru­men­ta­tion and buzzing with en­ergy, Wan­derer is a more in­ti­mate propo­si­tion. Gone is the elec­tric­ity – lit­er­ally – re­placed in­stead by acous­tic gui­tars and lo-fi pi­ano (you can of­ten hear Power’s pedal move­ments).

It’s only on Woman, a duet with Lana Del Rey, that she flexes her mu­si­cal mus­cles and adds pro­duc­tion to match.

Else­where songs such as the heav­ily folk-in­flu­enced ti­tle track or the drone-based Hori­zon feel more suited to the cof­fee house or late-night bar, which only serves to make their raw­ness more keenly felt. An emo­tion­ally wrought set, with some stand­out mo­ments of eerie beauty.

AF­TER nearly 50 years of tour­ing, trav­el­ling and record­ing with stars like David Bowie and Cat Stevens, you could be for­given for think­ing Rick Wake­man de­serves a chance to in­dulge him­self. And that’s ex­actly what the renowned key­boardist does on his new al­bum Pi­ano Odyssey, which sees him es­chew his trusty ar­ray of Moogs, elec­tric or­gans and key­boards in favour of the grand pi­ano.

Wake­man is best known as the key­boardist for Yes, and there­fore as a pi­o­neer of pro­gres­sive rock. But if Wake­man is any­thing on Pi­ano Odyssey, he’s re­gres­sive, tak­ing on well-worn clas­sics and opt­ing for pleas­ingly un­com­pli­cated ar­range­ments. Un­der his deft fin­gers, tracks such as While My Gui­tar Gen­tly Weeps and Straw­berry Fields For­ever come alive as voices soar over horns and strings.

More an ex­er­cise in ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, Pi­ano Odyssey won’t take lis­ten­ers any­where un­com­fort­able, sur­pris­ing or even new but it is un­de­ni­ably sat­is­fy­ing to hear a vir­tu­oso like Wake­man get his hands on these clas­sic songs.

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