- 22 Jun 21
The UK based singer-songwriter is back, extending her career across six decades with her new release.
Twenty-two studio albums in, and Joan Armatrading is still a major force in the singing and songwriting trade. Consequences is a musically adventurous departure from her last offering, 2018's Not Too Far Away. But then, Armatrading has rarely been accused of walking the same trail too often as she constantly found new sidepaths from her highly personal mélange of pop, folk, rock, blues and soul.
The poppy ‘Natural Rhythm’ opens with strident drums and a no-nonsense sense of triumph that clarifies she is still in charge of her artistry. The pacier Think About Me’ is replete with a joyous romanticism and poppy positivity while being stoked along by some skittish rhythms, and the finger-clickin’ good single ‘Already There’ explores how loving relationships can unfold at a different pace for each participant.
The introspective reflections of ‘To Anyone Who Will Listen’ are underpinned by carefully-chorded keys that allow her expressive voice(s) to soar while swaddled in warm strings. The playful ‘Like’ tends towards clap-along, singalong, dancefloor territory, and the languid keyboard-lead instrumental ‘Sunrise’ could have given us more of Armatrading’s much under-valued guitar playing. The captivating ‘To Be Loved’ scores on all fronts, proving that few surpass her when she celebrates the pleasure of being loved.
All ten tracks on Consequences are written and played entirely by Armatrading, with overdubbed harmonies embellishing several tracks. Her voice is as sturdy as ever, even if there’s nothing to rival the sublimity of ‘Love and Affection’. Those expecting some declarations about Black Lives Matter or #metoo, or Trump, or any of the myriad issues that crowd our headlines may be disappointed in her shying away of all such topics. Still, in the ska-tinged ‘Better Life', she advocates a policy of being happy and changing oneself as a means to fixing the planet. Worth a shot, maybe?