Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Album review: BARRY ADAMSON - I Will Set You Free

Highlights: Get Your Mind Right, Turnaround, Destination, The Sun And The Sea, Stand In

When you hear the deep, distorted sound of bass at the beginning of this album’s opening song, “Get Your Mind Right”, you just know this is going to be a brilliant album. Lusty, intense whisper, and then the funky bass groove and soulful, overpowering swagger of Barry Adamson’s vocals. It sets the tone, and gives you a good idea of what you are going to get: intense, intoxicating pop record that evokes people like Scott Walker, Nick Cave, Kevin Rowlands. Good company.

Really: with such a powerful, effortless collection of songs, you might wonder why Barry Adamson (formerly of bands like Magazine and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) spent a good half of his solo career doing soundtracks. Good soundtracks, no argument there, but when you hear something as mindblowing as the chorus of “Destination”, you just wonder why he can’t give us more of this. Basically, I Will Set You Free is a melting-pot of styles: in this form or another we have it all, from sunshine pop (“The Power Of Suggestion”) to funked up jazz (“Black Holes In My Brain”) to soulful power pop (“The Sun And The See”) to gently crooned orchestrated balladry (“If You Love Her” is so Scott 4 it hurts – but hurts beautifully) to punkish distortion (“Destination”) to some Leonard Cohen-esque moments (the quieter sections of “The Trigger City Blues”) to elements of dub. And the instrumentation is terrific. Bass is loud and prominent, but the album also features an inventive, effective use of brass, piano, organ, synths and just about everything you can think of. Overstuffed but never overcluttered.   

If this is not a modern day singer-songwriter classic (which is somewhat ironic – considering how retro-ish it all sounds), I don’t know what is. This is a very high eight. Maybe a nine. Whatever. Throbbing, intoxicating stuff.


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