Michael Nyman

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The Guardian Album Review -- The Glare -- 4 stars

Nov 13th, 2009

David McAlmont, the extraordinary singers from Croydon who sounds like a celestial mix of Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye and Antony Hegarty, has pulled off an idiosyncratic triumph with this collaboration.

Inspired by contemporary news stories about the glare of the media, McAlmont recasts them as soul songs, set against rearrangements of some of Nyman’s movie themes.

Thought McAlmont has often worked with jazz artists in the past, there’s no jazz here, but the pieces often thicken and intensify with a spontaneous- sounding drive. Evocative ballads such as Secrets, Accusations and Charges (set to Nyman’s The Departure, from Gattaca) or Friendly Fire (over a sombre swirl from The Actors) show the singer’s ability to impart reverberating impact to the softest murmurs, but several of the pieces unfold over pounding minimalist riffs with a pop-infused directness.

McAlmont’s lyrics occasionally creak under the weight of their serious subjects; and the 17 minute closing instrumental Songs for Tony is such an affective balance of Nyman grooves and modulating sax lines as to make one wish there had been more instrumental variation throughout the set. But it’s a fortuitously inspired collaboration all the same.

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