Album review overview: Fred Soul & Zé Luis Nascimento, Villagers and more

Photo (c) Jorge Fakhouri Filho

Dozens of new albums arrive at Maxazine’s editorial staff every week. There are way too many to listen to them all, let alone review them. It ensures that too many albums are left behind. And that’s a shame. That is why today we post an overview of albums that arrive at the editors in short reviews.

Lucassen & Soeterboek’s Plan Nine – The Long Lost Songs

The basis of “The Long Lost Songs” are tapes with bluesy demos from about 30 years ago, recorded by Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) and Robert Soeterboek (The Cotton Soeterboek Band). Robert’s voice has a pleasant slightly rough edge. The background vocals are of good quality, but occasionally a bit sweet in sound. The predictable timing of this sometimes takes too much attention away from the lead vocals. You notice that singing and music create a good atmosphere during a live concert. Laidback tracks alternate with catchy tracks. There is a lot of (screaming) guitar playing and a pleasant amount of Hammond. If sampling is added, this is always in service of the whole. CD2 contains mainly demos. During the instrumental demos, you will discover that singing along to the music is not easy. While the tracks are more accessible than those of Ayreon. The crossovers from prog metal to blues/hard rock are excellent. Finally, a good album in which these two styles go hand in hand. “The Long Lost Songs” will be released on May 17, you can still pre-order. (Esther Kessel-Tamerus) (8/10) (Music Theories Recordings / Mascot Label Group)

Fred Soul & Zé Luis Nascimento – Viva Nana

Fred Soul and Zé Luis Nascimento, two musical greats in their own right, join forces on the enchanting album “Viva Nana”. This album is a compelling collection of eclectic music, focusing on Soul’s piano and Nascimento’s beautiful percussion. Raised in a family of musicians and artists, Soul brings his rich European classical and traditional Eastern music background together in his compositions and improvisations. His piano playing weaves a refined thread between the past and the present, between the West and the East. Nascimento, a virtuoso percussionist from Brazil, adds his in-depth knowledge of both oriental and western percussion to the palette. His original rhythmic vocabulary and ability to combine a variety of instruments contribute to the cohesion of the music. The result is a mesmerizing collaboration that is universally appealing. “Viva Nana” invites the listener to lose themselves in the powerful and elegant world of these two masterful musicians. The question that remains is who will bring this duo to the Netherlands for live concerts because their music deserves to be heard by a wide audience. This is a masterpiece. (Jan Vranken) (9/10) (Barkhane)

Yaya Bey – Ten Fold

Yaya Bey, a singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, has steadily gained fame with her very own brand of R&B, which she says is deeply rooted in her Southern and Bajan background. However, her latest album, “Ten Fold”, falls short in comparison to her previous achievements. Despite Bey’s attempt to create poetic stories about life as a black woman, “Ten Fold” comes across as uninspired and suffering from a lack of creativity. The songs feel hastily put together, with some even sounding out of tune or aesthetically unpleasant. Even the album’s cover photo probably meant to convey strength, feels forced and, frankly, misogynous. Bey’s journey as an artist, from her debut EP to her involvement in activism, is commendable and has seen better moments. However, “Ten Fold” does not live up to the promise of her previous work. It’s a disappointment considering her previous efforts and the talent she possesses. Although Bey’s experiments with different genres and collaborations on “Ten Fold” show ambition, it ultimately falls flat. The album lacks the cohesive sound and introspective depth you might expect. Overall, “Ten Fold” is an album that begs to be skipped rather than listened to, a departure from Bey’s usual thought-provoking and soulful music. (Elodie Renard) (4/10) (Big Dada)

Villagers – That Golden Time

Villagers’ latest album, “That Golden Time”, is like a warm blanket on a spring morning, enveloping and comforting. With this album, Conor J. O’Brien and his team manage to create a pleasant and warm sound that invites the listener to relax and enjoy. A special aspect of this album is the guest appearances, which give the songs an extra dimension. The presence of Irish folk legend Dónal Lunny and American singer-songwriter and violinist Peter Broderick adds a beautiful nuance to the album’s already rich soundscape. A highlight of “That Golden Time” is the song “You Lucky One”, which subtly shows that beauty can often be found in simplicity. The album radiates sympathy and invites you to listen to Villagers’ previous work again. All in all, “That Golden Time” is a beautiful album that takes the listener on an emotional journey, wrapped in poor sounds and imbued with sincere feelings. Highly recommended for fans of introspective folk-pop. (Jan Vranken) (7/10) (Domino Recording Co)

Keeley Forsyth – The Hollow

Keeley Forsyth is a composer, singer and actress from Oldham in the North West of England. Based on sparse arrangements, Forsyth’s music revolves around a unique, emotionally raw and magnetic vocal performance, sometimes devastating and sometimes uplifting. The characters who populate her songs tell stories of high and low tide; of freedom and captivity, of hard-won victories and the darkest corners of domestic life. In recent years, Keeley has built a reputation for dramatically compelling live performances that reflect her interest in contemporary theatre, dance and movement. The new album ‘The Hollow’ couldn’t have a better title. The cold of an old stone circle somewhere in England grabs your heart and won’t let go. Is this beautiful? Maybe. Is this intriguing? Certainly, it is an album that holds your attention and doesn’t let go. It’s almost like a radio play, from sharply painful to ethereally beautiful. This must be a real experience live. When you hear this, you fall for it or push it aside. I fell for the first one. What a strange album, but enchanting and worth listening to. (Anton Dupont) (8/10) (130701 Ltd)

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