Home' Nova National : NOVA NATIONAL APRIL 12 Contents MUSIC Reviewed by Phil Bennett
© NOVA APRIL 2012
A sterling collection of contemporary numbers that combine
African and western rhythms and instrumentation, African Beat is, as its title suggests,
a sprightly array of songs infected with a highly contagious form of danceability.
The songs come from throughout the continent, with each conjuring up the
sounds of their native land.
Senegal's Lek Sen, for example, produces the cooly swishing Rebel Blues, while
Mali's Issa Bagayogo dishes up a delicious cocktail of finger snaps, African marimbas
and tribal chanting on Kalan Nege.
Elsewhere, Fredy Massamba's Zonza (Congo) stutters and twitches like an
antelope's ears and Donso's Mogoya is a mesmerising groove that sees moogs sparring
with clipped electric guitar lines to masterful effect.
A diverse range of sonic textures and intrinsic rhythms, this album's a pothole-free
ride through a host of African cultures.
And even if you don't feel like actually getting up and dancing, having this on will
set your toes tapping and that can't be a bad thing can it?
Amber Lawrence's third album is yet another strong release from
this relative newcomer.
One of Australia's most exciting young country artists, she's got a closetful of
awards over the past few years and her latest offering looks likely to strengthen her
rapidly growing profile.
Opening with the catchy, upbeat Everything's A Song, the mood of the album is
set right from the start -- subtle, breezy progressions, an easy on the ear vocal tone,
memorable melodies and lyrics that reflect her optimistic view of things.
So, we're not talking pure country here -- more country rock or pop with a twang.
Imagine Shania Twain with a rougher edge.
There are some great tracks on display -- the brisk, strutting Everybody's A Mess,
the lilting reggaeish Huge and the melodramatic The Man Across The Street with its
delicate vocal quiver and poignant lyrics.
Even if country's not your thing, there's plenty here for a range of tastes to savour.
Good quality songwriting and stylish performances all round.
All of which makes for a top notch listen.
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BORN TO DIE
LANA DEL REY
There's an eerie, ethereal mood about this haunting release
from Lana Del Rey.
The lyrical equivalent of a David Lynch film, something dark and foreboding lurks
behind the pretty façade, the characters often mistaking sex for love, brutality for
strength and success for happiness.
A decidedly Phil Spectorish production ethic pervades with snare drums sounding
like they're recorded in a cathedral and epic, sweeping string arrangements gilding the
lily. Add to this the thoroughly modern use of vocal counterpoint as a rhythmic
instrument, and you have a sound that is quite sensational.
Her voice is as strong as her image, perfectly controlled and allowing her to switch
between warbling vibrato to soulful cry or majestic steadiness without batting a false
The tunes stick in your head, resurfacing like a half forgotten memory long after
the music's finished.
Track after track -- Born To Die, Blue Jeans, Video Games -- it's all there, production,
performance and construct all cut from a superior cloth.
Ignore her recent bad press, close your eyes and just listen to the album. It's
dramatic, moody, and tinged with a delicious darkness.
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in NOVA this May
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