Observer Music Monthly -- 4 stars -- "one of the better lp's of 2009. Grab The Glare quick"Nov 1st, 2009
No disrespect to the likes of Thieves, Bernard Butler and Jools Holland, but you can tell how much David McAlmont’s stock has risen by the identity of his more recent collaborators. Having laboured through the 1990s, burdened by the novelty of being the only black indie singer of the Britpop era, Croydon’s answer to Smokey Robinson has spent the 21st century finding a happier niche working with composers David Arnold and Craig Armstrong and jazzers Courtney Pine, Guy Barker and Terence Blanchard. This path has finally led to the music he was always capable of making – a unique blend of classical, soul and avant-garde pop in tandem with Britain’s most lauded modern composer Michael Nyman. The Glare also qualifies as the first great collaboration to result from musician looking up singer on, of all things, Facebook.
The Glare consists of 11 classic Nyman compositions which McAlmont has transformed into songs. The title refers to the glare of the media, and the lyrics are all inspired by world news stories which McAlmont has turned into first-person reportage. So, the giddy rush of opener Take the Money and Run comes from the true story of a couple that got rich off a banking error and disappeared; the waspish camp of In Rai Don Giovanni sees McAlmont imagining himself as Silvio Berlusconi’s lover, and the heartbreaking ballads In Laos, Fever Sticks and Bones, and Underneath the Hessian Bags are sung from the perspectives of a pregnant Nigerian prisoner, a Zimbabwean orphan and a Palestinian student respectively.
Another ballad, Secrets, Accusations and Charges, encapsulates how elegantly McAlmont transforms the newsworthy into the personal, as the unlikely tale of an Aberdeen woman who ran international jewellery heists becomes a string-drenched confessional of shame and lost love. When McAlmont glides over Nyman’s stately strings, deliriously wailing “What good are millions in diamonds hidden away?/I didn’t want you in the same room as the secrets”, he finds a deep soul melody and rhythm where there should be none, and displays an ability to make the specific into the universal that even his greatest admirers had no idea he possessed.
In case Nyman fans fear that he has abandoned them for pop, his memorial for his late manager Tony Simmons, the saxophone quartet Songs For Tony, is included as a bonus. This neither adds to, nor subtracts from, the unlikely twinning of talents that has produced one of the better long-players of 2009. Grab The Glare quick, because, if the pair’s past artistic restlessness is anything to go by, there may not be a part two.