FEATURED ALBUM – John Numan ‘Tribute’ (4/5)
With fans already familiar with John Newman’s winning combination of soulful vocals and that essential touch of pop sensibility from his popular single ‘Love Me Again’, Tribute does not fail in delivering more of this successful blend. From the smooth sound of ‘Cheating’ – with its rich, jazzy beat – to the distinct, slow, yet powerful vocals from Newman, perfectly juxtaposed with the upbeat overtones in ‘Easy’, he leaves no stone unturned when it comes to demonstrating his ability to deliver a diverse set of songs which complement one another so well. Its defiant lyrics combined with a certain groovy, finger snapping catchiness, ‘Try’ is another particular stand out track. ‘Gold Dust’ even dabbles in an R’n’B ballad sound, which suits Newman’s passionate and fervent vocals. A running thread throughout Tribute is Newman’s nods to his inspirations, which have helped create his eclectic sound, even going so far as the opening track (also named ‘Tribute’) containing a list of them (artists such as Jay Z, MGMT and Mark Ronson are name checked, if you’re wondering). The album sees Newman undoubtedly echoing the 1950s/60s rock n’ roll feel but injected with a modern twist. It’s this unique fusion – really setting this release above the rest – which gives Newman such a distinct identity in the charts. Having recently claimed he wants a 50 year career in music, he is certainly going the right way about it with this album which effortlessly spans decades in its sound.
Let’s turn back time for a second. It’s 2002 and Cher has just announced her farewell tour, saying goodbye to a four decade career with typical panache: a three year, 325 date arena spectacle. Fast forward to today and it turns out that Cher, who is now 67, is still strong enough. Her comeback album is a romping, six inch heel-stomping autotune extravaganza. It is exhausting. Cher opens with ‘Woman’s World’, a kitschy and campy slam dunk of a tune. “Torn up, busted, taken apart”, she warbles over staccato synths. This is Cher on top form, filling a cannon with disco balls and taking a flamethrower to the fuse. ‘Take It Like A Man’ and ‘I Walk Alone’ are equally brilliant, featuring backing vocals from Jake Shears and Pink respectively. Yet it’s on ‘Sirens’, the bewildering ode to 9/11, that the album reaches its emotional peak. Cher’s cover of Nell Bryden is an oddly heartfelt ballad that provides a welcome respite from the record’s floor filling anthems. Listeners may recognise the album’s closing track, ‘You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me’ from her turn in 2010’s Burlesque. Yes, its title sounds like an unreleased Morrissey album but it is, in its own strange way, a captivating and affecting finale. At worst, Closer to the Truth is a clichéd hodgepodge of forgettable songs; at best, though, this is a life affirming acid trip, a beautiful mess of Eurodance bangers. Believe.