HAVING recently released the William Morris-inspired Chants for Socialists and records about the “thankful” villages of the first world war, singer-songwriter Darren Hayman has teamed up with the hugely talented Emma Kupa for this brilliant duets album.
Recorded pretty much live over three days in Ramsgate, the music has the immediacy of the 1960s pop Hayman says he was thinking about at the time.
They co-wrote the songs, swapping lines and POV to jazz up the traditional gendered duet format. And what lyrics they are — honest, conversational, sassy, heartbreaking and, most of all, deeply endearing.
A joyous collection of very direct romantic songs with perfect indie production values, if you like the sadly defunct Allo Darlin’, then you’ll love these guys.
And do check out their non-album single Someone To Care For, which includes one of the greatest opening lines in pop history.
Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott
CROOKED Calypso, the third album recorded by Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott as a duo, is further proof that the former is one of the greatest British songwriters.
As with his previous bands The Housemartins and The Beautiful South, the record is chock-full of catchy pop hooks and witty, intelligent lyrics.
“The Sikhs have the temple/ the Muslims have a mosque/I can’t even name any lovers I’ve lost,” they sing on the glorious opening track I Gotta Praise.
Blackwater Banks is an Irish-themed waltz that raises a glass to Fairytale of New York, while The Lord Is a White Con is the most upbeat song you’ll ever hear about Christian-led colonialism.
Full of gorgeous strings and dancy brass on tracks like hit-in-waiting People Like Us, the album turns the term MOR into the highest praise, rather than the insult it is often used as.
I’ll Be Yours
TAKING their name from photographer Robert Frank’s influential 1958 book, The Americans were recently plucked out of obscurity by Jack White and T Bone Burnett to appear in their documentary series American Epic.
Great news, because the LA band’s new album is a brilliant burst of classic rock ’n’ roll.
Bruce Springsteen and Chuck Berry are cited as key influences, though swaggering lead single The Right Stuff does what no-one else seems to have done — meld some chiming The Walkmen-style guitar licks with heartland rock straight out of the Bob Seger playbook.
This is restless music that wears its heart on its sleeve. “Left home with a dream/ future at my feet,” sings frontman Patrick Ferris about being “Up late waiting on a night bus/I’ve been awake so long, since dawn”.
Not many bands make them like this anymore, more’s the pity.