Bom­bast en­thu­si­ast

Lewis Ca­paldi doesn’t hold back in his vo­cal de­liv­ery on his lesspow­er­ful- than- he- thinks de­but

The Scotsman - - ARTS - Fionashep­herd Ken Wal­ton

Lewis Ca­paldi’s grow­ing army of fans seem to lap up his patho­log­i­cal self­dep­re­ca­tion, yet there is a pas­sive ag­gres­sion in choos­ing to re­claim a hatchet re­view as the ti­tle of his long- awaited de­but al­bum. At least he’s not get­ting one over on an old school teacher. But he does over­play the self- pity on

Divinely Unin­spired to a Hel­lish Ex­tent

and it’s not a good look. Nei­ther is it a stim­u­lat­ing sound, fun­nelling forced angsty sen­ti­ments through an un­remit­ting diet of mid­dle of the road bal­lads. But the sales don’t lie – there is clearly room for Ca­paldi’s generic ra­dio pop/ rock along­side his bard- next- door peers ( Sheeran, Ezra, Walker, Fen­der). Like his mu­si­cal hero Paolo Nu­tini, Ca­paldi has licked the cross- gen­er­a­tional ap­peal. If only he had a por­tion of Paolo’s cre­ativ­ity.

Divinely Unin­spired is an un­ad­ven­tur­ous, even for­mu­laic record, with song af­ter song fol­low­ing the same pat­tern as the sin­gles – a brief verse or so of warm- up be­fore the bel­low­ing pop bom­bast kicks in. For all his chest- beat­ing cho­ruses, Ca­paldi is not a nat­u­ral pow­er­house singer, but con­sis­tently fails to recog­nise that there is po­tency in

re­straint. So the gen­tle folky respite at the start of Maybe in­evitably gives way to the full flag­el­la­tion of the cho­rus. He is all too con­vinc­ing as the bruised boyfriend on Headspace, wal­low­ing in re­jec­tion, while The

One is a bor­ing blokey take on the right­eous kiss- off songs of Lit­tle Mix, P! nk and Ari­ana Grande, with Ca­paldi step­ping in to scoop up the heart­bro­ken dumpee.

He’s still bray­ing like he’s fit to burst on Don’t Get Me Wrong, but at least there is a mod­er­ately soul­ful sway to the track, and a more open- throated and lib­er­ated de­liv­ery of Fade which points to a more nat­u­ral sound.

For those who don’t fancy be­ing brow­beaten into sub­mis­sion by Ca­paldi, con­sider spend­ing time in the su­per- chilled com­pany of re­luc­tant DIY pop fig­ure­head Mac

De­marco. The Canadian in­die au­teur de­scribes Here Comes the Cow­boy as his “out- to- pas­ture record.” It’s sin­gle- mind­edly laid- back, even for this com­mit­ted slacker. The not- so­grand funk rail­road of Choo Choo is slow and repet­i­tive but oc­ca­sion­ally he throws the lis­tener a bone, such as the gor­geous bur­nished gui­tar on Pre­oc­cu­pied ( with bonus bird­song), and grad­u­ally De­marco works his slow­burn charms with the ten­der acous­tic croon of K, the retro so­phis­ti­ca­tion of synth smoocher Heart to Heart, ide­ally to be ac­com­pa­nied by the sip­ping of Pina Co­lada, and the el­e­gant yearn­ing pi­ano bal­lad On the Square.

Six years on from their pre­vi­ous re­lease, Vam­pire Week­end re­turn with a breezy, easy hour’s lis­ten­ing which is the strong­est it­er­a­tion of their bright- eyed, bushy- tailed col­le­giate pop to date. Fa­ther of the

Bride rep­re­sents a de­lib­er­ate ( and suc­cess­ful) at­tempt by front­man Ezra Koenig to be less tricksy and more di­rect in his song­writ­ing. The in­flu­ence of Paul Si­mon still looms large, but he also cites coun­try star Kacey Mus­graves as a bench­mark for the likes of whim­si­cal coun­try bal­lad Hold You Now and the child­like at­tach­ment of We Be­long To­gether, both fea­tur­ing Danielle Haim as a duet part­ner.

But the band still have some flour­ishes up their sleeve, not least the quirky har­monic de­light of

Sun­flower, com­bin­ing the light pop funk of Beck with scat­ting vo­cals.

Liver­pool’s Clinic also make a wel­come re­turn with the Bernard Man­ning- hosted 70s va­ri­ety show- ref­er­enc­ing Wheeltap­pers

and Shunters. Af­ter a seven- year hia­tus, lit­tle has changed in their idio­syn­cratic sound­world – no one pro­duces pithy, psy­che­delic synth garage voodoo with a la­tent hys­te­ria quite like th­ese guys. High­lights of their lat­est half hour in­clude prim­i­tive one- chord won­der D. I. S. C. I. P. L. E., the men­ac­ing strut of Rub­ber Bul­lets with woozy fair­ground or­gan, and the Syd Bar­rett- era Pink Floy­desque blend of whimsy and garage that is Re­joice!

Cel­e­brat­ing John Wil­liams: Los An­ge­les Phil­har­monic

Deutsche Gram­mophon

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The con­nec­tion be­tween Hol­ly­wood film com­poser John Wil­liams and the Los An­ge­les Phil­har­monic goes back to when Wil­liams was a job­bing pi­anist with the orches­tra in the late 1950s, but it took flight when he first con­ducted them 20 years later in the Hol­ly­wood Bowl. It’s a golden con­nec­tion, as this dou­ble CD cel­e­bra­tion of Wil­liams’ most iconic movie tunes – as well as the orches­tra’s cen­te­nary sea­son – bril­liantly demon­strates.

There’s noth­ing sur­pris­ing about the ac­tual mu­sic, typ­i­cally ex­tracts from Harry Pot­ter, Jaws, Star Wars, Juras­sic Park, Su­per­man, the lesser

known Me­moirs of a Geisha and Schindler’s List. It’s the qual­ity of play­ing that counts, a blind­ing per­fec­tion, ef­fort­less pre­ci­sion and ex­pan­sive vir­tu­os­ity, all de­liv­ered un­der the ba­ton of Gus­tavo Du­damel. This is a mouth- wa­ter­ing ap­pe­tiser for the Phil’s forth­com­ing res­i­dency at this sum­mer’s Ed­in­burgh Internatio­nal Fes­ti­val.

Peter Ca­paldi is all too con­vinc­ing as the bruised boyfriend on Headspace, wal­low­ing in re­jec­tion

FOLK

Còig: Ash­lar

( own la­bel)

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Ti­tled af­ter neatly dressed ma­sonry, this al­bum from the Cape Bre­ton band Còig comes well- crafted. Fid­dler Chrissy Crow­ley, singer- fid­dler Rachel Davis, pi­anist Ja­son Roach and Dar­ren Mc­mullen on gui­tars, banjo and much else, range with springy en­ergy through the Gaelicin­formed mu­si­cal cul­ture of their is­land, in­clud­ing fresh com­po­si­tions. Songs range from the gen­tly melodic and bit­ter­sweet Gaelic of O Luaidh, through the droll Ca­pa­ble Wife to Ash­ley Con­don and David Francey’s song of un­re­quited love, Deep Down

in the River. In­stru­men­tally, they fly while main­tain­ing a light touch, as in the head­long ex­u­ber­ance of Un­cle

Leo’s Jigs. They taste­fully han­dle the stately, old- time air Farewell Trion, while a high­light is the med­ley

From the Old Tapes – tunes gleaned from old record­ings given fresh vigour as strath­speys crank up the ten­sion be­fore snap­ping into a Cape Bre­tonised ver­sion of the well- known pipe tune The Re­jected Suitor. You can feel the dance­floor trem­ble.

Clock­wise from main: Lewis Ca­paldi; Mac De­marco; Ezra Koenig of Vam­pire Week­end; Clinic

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