Album Review: Alison Moyet – the minutes5 min read
With a chain of single releases in the eighties and early nineties that included All Cried Out, Love Resurrection and Invisible, Alison Moyet has held firmly on to an iconic position within the international music arena for over 30 years. Her early solo releases were unique, pop infused soundscapes, intriguing to the ear and lyrically captivating whilst containing the right amount of mainstream appeal to be regarded today as timeless classics.
Alison’s commercial success began alongside Vince Clarke in the 80’s new wave, synth-pop duo, Yazoo, or simply Yaz as they are known in the US. Situation, Only You and Nobody’s Diary were some of the bands trailblazing recordings and with them the band was accepted into the welcoming arms of pop culture where they have remained ever since, despite a career together covering a mere 3 years.
With the disbanding of Yazoo in 1983, Alison Moyet began a solo career that eclipsed any previous success that the singer had achieved. Albums like Alf, Raindancing and Hoodoo put Alison’s distinctive bluesy contralto vocals firmly in the ear of audiences outside of her native UK while her talents and efforts were rewarded by a Best Song nomination at the 1991 Grammy Awards.
Over the past decade Alison has offered fans several releases and although each have proven to be critically acclaimed efforts, none have catapulted the singer back to the same peaks as her early work allowed her to soar through, however, this month sees Alison return with one of the finest studio releases of her career to date. the minutes, Alison’s eighth solo studio release, is a collection of hook heavy, uniquely drawn musical pennings from one of music’s leading ladies of pop.
The first line to come out of the minutes on the albums opener, Horizon Flame, sums up Alison’s new record nicely; “suddenly the landscape has changed”, perhaps initiating a change of musical direction that becomes evident as we commence through the new track listing she has presented to us. With a lick of the singers whispery vocals the album takes off with an almost cinematic unfurling, Alison bouncing through a gorgeously draped instrumentation, adopting a more mature yet subtle, modern electronic approach than heard on any previous Moyet effort. The strings that flow around the number are a complimentary filling to this stunning intro.
The vibe is mixed up and thrown into deep power pop waters with the following Changeling. It seems an almost effortless task for Alison to dip her toes into contrasting genres but she does so with precision, perfection and confidence as we hear on this track, a catchy addition that blends high octane dance grooves with a soul root that grows around the singer’s synth pop beginnings but with a fresh coating of originality.
The lead single taken from the minutes is up next and is the clear crown taker when it comes to album highlights here. Its exquisite instrumentation is what is so inviting about When I Was Your Girl as well as the pure, untamed passion in Alison’s vocals as they gracefully unfold through an immaculately produced arrangement of strings and infectious hooks. Alison has not lost a single ounce of her vocal ability over the years and the evidence of that is here, shining in all its glory on When I Was your Girl, easily one of the best releases of Alison’s career to date and the perfect comeback single for the icon. Alison hits the nail right on its head with this spectacular, musical masterpiece.
With an intro that could have easily been crafted by drum n bass maestro’s Pendulum, the style evolves steadily on Apple Kisses with its haunting melody and dark instrumentation while the tracks numerous harmony fuelled moments add a slight experimental angel to the album before Right As Rain’s toe-tapping beat edges us closer to the dance floor. The tracks catchy rhythm snakes its way through a radio-friendly, electro monster with Alison driving the track with her distinctive, vocal nudges.
As we get further into the minutes, A Place To Stay is bittersweet and poetic with Alison reciting lines like; “every day you change your mind and every minute draw a different line”, pulling us into a world of despair and heartache as Alison realizes a love lost, perhaps too late, declaring, “I’m gonna leave you now, even if I don’t know how”, reflecting on better days when that love was, as she describes it – “a place to stay”. It’s a tragic but ultimately empowering track that flavors the record nicely with its power ballad sensibilities.
Nearing the end of the album a gentle organ and some outdoor sound effects set the mood for All Signs Of Life. Beginning as an instrumentally minimalistic mid-tempo number to help wind the record down it lifts off into electronic territory in the numbers euphoric chorus’.
Alison Moyet is a musical icon and that can be said confidently, with no sign of doubt. She has sustained an enviable career with countless hits that have stood the test of time and the singer shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon but then again, why would you when you are still capable of releasing records of such a high quality as the minutes. With this new collection of diverse, genre blending gold nuggets she has shifted her musical capabilities up a notch and shown us she is more than capable of holding her own alongside today’s electro-pop hit makers and is able to do so without selling herself out or losing any of her artistic credibility.
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