Monday, 25 February 2019

Bryan Ferry - Avonmore (2014)

Soldier of fortune....


Released November 2014

This album continues in the same vein as "Mamouna" and "Olympia" - high class, sophisticated art/pop, delivered with the class of a 1930s Parisian nightclub singer yet with a sumptuous contemporary, laid-back, polished backing. "Here it comes - that old ennui..." is a line from Roxy Music's "If It Takes All Night" from 1974's "Country Life". It is so apt here. Ferry is a master of his craft, the relayer of reserved romanticism and the purveyor of polished perfection. As with those previous albums, the pace never gets above walking, gliding over the floor. It doesn't need to. It is all exquisitely seductive. Strangely, though, for such a mature, accomplished album, the cover shows Ferry as a callow youth.


1. Loop Di Li
2. Midnight Train
3. Soldier Of Fortune
4. Driving Me Wild
5. A Special Kind Of Day
6. Avonmore
7. Lost
8. One Night Stand
9. Send In The Clowns
10. Johnny And Mary                            

"Loop Di Li" is an insistently shuffling, syncopated typical Ferry groove. Effortless and delectable. "Midnight Train" continues in the same appetising fashion, with some understated but melodic guitar lines floating around and Ferry's voice, as always, sounding classily detached. That voice is gorgeously croakily romantic on "Soldier Of Fortune". "Driving Me Wild" has a couple of hints of contemporary music in its "hey hey hey" vocal backing, but the overall ambience hasn't changed. It doesn't for "A Special Kind Of Day" either. I would say that "Olympia" actually had far more changes of style and atmosphere than on this album, where the vibe is the same, like on "Mamouna", from track one to track ten.

The title track does see the pace up just a little, however, with a more frantic, rolling drum beat and a luscious, enigmatic vocal from Ferry. It is an ebullient, buoyant number. "Lost" has a beguiling guitar line floating around all over it and Ferry's voice is engagingly "grey" (which is the only way I can describe its slightly high, throaty tone). "One Night Stand" harks back to the intoxicating Grace Jones-esque nightclub rhythms of "Olympia". It has some nice saxophone swirling about in there too. Despite a few slight changes in pace, the whole album plays pretty much as one continuous whole.

The final two tracks are cover versions - a haunting version of Judy Collins' "Send In The Clowns" and a bassy version of Robert Palmer's "Johnny And Mary". The track would seem to be ideal for Ferry. He does it full of laid-back, sleepy soul. As indeed he does the whole album.


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