Music You Don't Know You Like Yet
2013-03-17British singer/songwriter Joan Armatrading's latest album, Starlight, finds the artist continuing to tweak her style, this time with jazz infusions, variably saccharine though those infusions may be. The album as a whole has divisions within in. Armtrading teeters back and forth between ample silliness and maturity, with the first tracks "Single Life and "Close to Me" embodying this split. "Single Life" is bouncy, a little cloying, but otherwise a harmless and energetic opener, while "Close to Me" takes a serious embrace of loving relationships. With her experience as an established singer/songwriter, Armatrading's work seems more fruitful with the latter. The album mainly deals with love and relationships, an unfortunately occasionally dips into the corny. Phrases like "intravenous hugs" in "I Want That Love" can hardly be defended. Another kind of division of the album is the vocal performance itself. Tracks like "Single Life" and "Tell Me" has Armatrading spilling out words, sometimes almost distinctly separate from music. The dichotomous nature of songs like these hints at spoken word, and while treating the voice as a solo instrument in of itself is nothing new to jazz, more effort to knit the music together would be appreciated. The album itself feels a bit like disparate pieces coming together, with enough groove to make the initial listen enjoyable, but ultimately forgettable. - Jacqueline Ristola
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