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MUSIC | Reviews of four albums
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“The Christian message has at its root a disgust with the ways of the world. But there’s more to it. It’s also about seeing all with the eyes of love.” Peter Case wrote those words in 2017. And now he has come up with a song called “Eyes of Love.” It’s not alone. “The moment you surrender,” he sings in “Have You Ever Been in Trouble?,” “the wounds begin to heal. / Here’s your reprieve: / Ask and you’ll receive.” He also busts out piano chops that take his sound in fresh directions. “Downtown Nowhere’s Blues” will make a Steely Dan fan’s day.
One day, if our growing indifference to beauty doesn’t thoroughly demoralize the artistic classes first, some enterprising composer will use these eight miniature melodies based on the seven days of creation and redolent of the Baroque, the Classical, and the Romantic periods as the basis for full-scale solo-piano works heard in concert halls the world over. For now, however, this lovely 15-minute, 12-second template will do. The opening without-form-and-void piece is called “Space,” the closing God-rested piece “Choral.” In between, “Light,” “Ocean & Heaven,” “Plants,” “Sun & Moon,” “Birds,” and “Human” flicker numinously by.
The Symphonic Touch of Benny Andersson
Christian Svarfvar, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Anders Berglund
Three of the four melodies associated with ABBA will befuddle anyone who knows only the hits. None of the four associated with Chess are “One Night in Bangkok.” The other four are obscurer still. So whether it was the top-billed violinist (Christian Svarfvar) or the bottom-billed arranger and conductor (Anders Berglund) who chose what to orchestrate, he did so from a place of intimate familiarity. To label the elegant transformations that result “classical crossover” would be both demeaning and misleading, but they do cross over—to the spirit of the parlors, the ballrooms, and the thoroughfares of late 19th-century Europe.
Ever since “Now I Know I’ll Never Get Over You” raised their expectations eight years ago, fans of this venerable act have been hoping that Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent would keep coming up with late-inning heroics. This time, Blunstone whiffs in his only at-bat. Argent, however, goes two for nine, even if it’s with bloops reminiscent of the Beach Boys (“Rediscover”) and the Osmonds (“You Could Be My Love”). The other seven put the ball in play.
In lieu of their ability to agree on whether they will commemorate the occasion by performing together for the first time in decades, Ray and Dave Davies are commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Kinks’ founding by releasing the anthologies The Journey Part 1 (spanning 1964 to 1975 and out now) and The Journey Part 2 (presumably spanning 1975 to 1993 and out later). Should anyone who owns The Kink Kronikles or the two Kinks box sets released since 2008 care? Yes and no.
No because they already know much of the material. Yes because what they don’t know is worth knowing—and because the Davies brothers and Mick Avory (the other surviving original Kink) have chosen the material. They’ve also organized it thematically instead of chronologically, allowing songs that only insiders would’ve suspected of sharing connections to shed light on each other. Hearing “Celluloid Heroes” sandwiched by “Death of a Clown” and “Act Nice and Gentle” is really something. —A.O.