Times 2 - UK (2020-10-16)

(Antfer) #1

the times | Friday October 16 2020 1GT 9

music reviews

by her side. If I Was the Priest is a
country-rock epic that tells the story
of Jesus through Old West imagery,
and the Dylanesque Song for Orphans
is about people alone in the world. To
mislay not one but three masterpieces
for almost 50 years does seem careless,
but 1971’s loss is 2020’s gain.
The immediacy that Springsteen
once sought to emulate through
tinkering does sound better when it is
actually immediate. The music has an
invigorating vitality and rawness, from
Patti Scialfa, Nils Lofgren and Steven
Van Zandt’s intertwining guitars to
Charles Giordano’s swirling organ and
Max Weinberg’s insistent drumming,
all tied together by Springsteen’s
impassioned, muscular delivery. It’s an
album that makes you feel good to be
alive, an achievement not to be taken
for granted right now.

taken too slowly. The other sonatas,
No 13 and No 15, brilliantly dispatched,
suffered no such handicap.
If Giltburg can be recommended
with a question mark, no qualifications
are required for Angela Hewitt’s new
Beethoven album of seven variation
sets, a couple of them trifling but fun
(variations on Rule, Britannia! and God
Save the King), but others bracing
creations deserving of greater fame.
Hewitt’s touch is nimble and poetic.
So was her cherished Fazioli piano, an
older, more responsive instrument I
suspect than the one under Giltburg’s
fingers, and one that tragically had to
be put down after the piano movers
accidentally dropped it after the Berlin
recording sessions were over. “The
loss was devastating,” Hewitt writes
in the booklet. The tragedy underlines
one important point: a great pianist
wouldn’t be great without the love
and support of a wonderful piano.
Geoff Brown

Bruce plays it loose — and wins


ate last year, Bruce
Springsteen called the
E Street Band to his
studio in New Jersey
and recorded an entire
album, live, in five
days. Since he is the
master of all things blue
collar, earthy and immediate, you
might think that this is the way a
rock’n’roller of Springsteen’s pedigree
usually works. In fact it is the opposite.
His 1975 classic Born to Run took
14 months to make. The River (1980)
was signed off and ready to go in 1979
when Springsteen scrapped the whole
thing and spent another seven months
recording it all over again.
As he confessed in his Broadway
show in 2017, he has never worked in
a factory, never raced cars down the
strip and never run away from his
small town with a girlfriend. Instead
he has worked hard to make songs
about those subjects sound like
unfettered roars from the soul.
Perhaps it has taken Springsteen this
long to learn how not to overthink,
because this superb album returns to
the rambunctious spirit of those
Seventies and Eighties albums that
took so long to make. And, at 71, he
hasn’t lost his ability, despite four
decades of fame and fortune, to
articulate the emotional struggles of
working-class people.
“March crops dying beneath the
dead sun. We’ve been praying, but no
good comes,” he sings on Rainmaker,
a tale of rural midwesterners so
desperate that they fall for a charlatan
“who says white’s black and black’s
white”. It isn’t hard to work out who

he’s singing about. Springsteen’s genius
is in creating an uplifting anthem that
doesn’t judge people for falling for a
man who claims he can make rain fall
from the sky, but seeks to understand
what brought them to do it.
Also, the big-scale rocker Ghosts is
about the simple joys of being in the E
Street Band, Letter to You celebrates
the power of community and I’ll See
You in My Dreams pays tribute to late
friends by concluding, “Death is not
the end,” against the kind of heroic
guitar you would want at your funeral.
There are also three songs that
Springsteen wrote in the early 1970s,
but has not unearthed until now. Janey
Needs a Shooter, on which Warren
Zevon’s 1980 song Jeannie Needs a
Shooter was based, is a ballad about a
woman who has a priest, a doctor and
a cop, but really needs a guy like Bruce

Katie Melua became synonymous
with middle-of-the-road mundanity
after her preposterously successful
2003 debut, Call Off the Search.
However, whether it’s due to
the break-up of her marriage, the
semi-classical arrangements by her
producer Leo Abrahams or a deeper
melodic sensibility gained from years
of experience, she goes into the best
kind of easy listening here.
Shades of Dusty Springfield, Minnie
Riperton and other stars of the late
Sixties/early Seventies golden age of
smooth music filter in, while the lyrics
offer far more intrigue than usual.
On English Manner she asks a lover
whom he loves best, her or his wife.
Sometimes it all slips too easily into
the background, but with Melua’s
calming, bossa nova-like voice to the
fore, this is a glamorous, grown-up
album, ideal for sophisticated dinner
parties and discreet affairs.

Katie Melua

Album No 8

The star of
the indie
revival is
a British-
singer with a
clutch of catchy
songs about being
annoyed, fancying people, falling in
and out of love and other pressing
concerns of youth. The 20-year-old
Bea Kristi, above, has taken cues from
Lush, Pavement and other alternative
favourites, but the unguarded way in
which she expresses herself makes
that fuzzy Nineties style sound fresh.
“You are the smell of pavement after
the rain,” she waxes on Horen Sarrison,
while on Dye It Red she’s outraged that
she has put up with a boyfriend for so
long, not least because he’s “not even
that cute”. It’s a fun, relatable album
just waiting to be sung along to in
teenage bedrooms and a few belonging
to middle-aged indie fans too.

As a non-manufactured boy band
who play their instruments and
share a love of glittery pop, the Vamps
seem like a good idea, but their fourth
album is anything but. Glory Days is
reminiscent of One Direction back
when they still liked each other, and
finishing your album with a dreary
ballad called Treading Water is just
asking for trouble.
Buried amid the dross, however,
is some good material. There’s real
emotion in the Prince-like heartbreak
song Protocol, while the upbeat
Married in Vegas sounds like
something Jack White might have
come up with had he learnt his
craft on TV talent shows.

The Vamps

Cherry Blossom


ow many senses come
into play as you listen to
music? The question arose
as I explored the fourth
volume of Boris Giltburg’s
chronological cycle of Beethoven’s 32
piano sonatas, mounted to salute the
composer’s 250th birthday. In concert
I have sometimes found the
touch of this gifted Russian-
born Israeli musician too
fierce or detached,
characteristics also
experienced as Sonata
No 12, the first offering
of this new release
(streaming or
download only),
penetrated my ears.
Then I turned to
YouTube, the eventual home
for filmed versions of all the
cycle’s recording sessions. No 12 is
already online, and there was Giltburg,
above, head bowed before his Fazioli

piano, the camera fixed on his delicate
fingers in the opening andante.
What had previously seemed careful
and deliberate now appeared dappled
with tender feelings. Elsewhere, the
forceful attacks had become entirely
appropriate, never excessive. Was
I now hearing more through my eyes
than my ears? Or maybe
the scales were just
about balanced.
Some sensations
never changed;
Giltburg’s clean
dexterity, for
example, and his
storytelling gift as
twist followed turn
in this breakthrough
work, the first to
foreshadow the later
sonatas’ visionary thrills. Heard
through ears alone, the Moonlight
Sonata cast its usual spell, except
during the allegretto movement,

World music

Baku guitarist Rustem
Quliyev reviewed at

Beethoven’s sonatas shine in the moonlight


This album made

in less than a week

is one of the Boss’s

best yet, writes

Will Hodgkinson




Letter to You


Boris Giltburg


Angela Hewitt






the sca
in t
sonatas’ vi
through ears alon


Fake It Flowers
Dirty Hit

Bruce Springsteen’s
Letter to You, a
documentary about the
making of the album,
will be available on
Apple TV+ from Oct 23
Free download pdf