Daily Frantic Review Daily Express - Fri 12th Apr

Daily Frantic Review Daily Express
12 April 2002

Daily Express, 12th April 2002
Jeremy Novick

I thought there was something in the air. The sun shining. People out on the streets. A new Bryan Ferry album is always a cause for national celebration and - praise be - it's not an album of covers or standards or Thirties ditties, but an honest-to-goodness Ferry album. His first since 1994.

On his last two solo tours Ferry seemed looser, more relaxed than he had in years. Like a man who'd taken off an overcoat. That follows on Frantic. There's a definite feeling of letting go (remember this is Ferry letting go, a very different idea to maybe Lemmy letting go) and you can't help but feel that particularly last year's Roxy Music reunion tour might have reminded him that it's supposed to be about fun. Whatever, he hasn't sounded this good on record in years.

He's always had a great voice, emotive and warm, but so often in recent times, there's been a feeling that he's holding back, afraid to let go, afraid to let the emotion out. On Frantic - and what an unlikely word that is to find in the Ferry lexicon - he sounds relaxed.

Of Frantic's 13 songs, six first surfaced (albeit in a subterranean manner) on 1997's Alphaville, one of Ferry's two geat 'lost' albums of the past decade. The songs are less frenetic in their new, official guise. More grooves, less angst. Less Frantic. Co-produced by Rhett Davies (who produced Avalon) and Colin Good, who played piano on the Roxy tour, it sounds lush and cool, without ever slipping into that antiseptic over-smooth tone that Ferry has fallen foul of in the past.

The playing is, of course immaculate. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood adds a sheen to the gorgeous Hiroshima, a paean to an old love. San Simeon shimmers, thematically picking up where we left off on Roxy's In Every Dreamhome A Heartache, and is one of three tracks featuring original Roxy drummer, the great Paul Thompson. But most of the attention will be on the presence of Brian Eno, who co-wrote and sings on the lilting closer, I Thought.

There are classic Ferry moments - a song to Monroe, something called Fool For Love, a brace of Dylan covers (Don't Think Twice, It's Alright and It's All Over Now, Baby Blue) plus Don Nix's Goin' Down and Leadbelly's Goodnight Irene, but the overall feeling is of lightness and a verve that's been lacking in the past.

Whenever you hear a new Ferry album, the temptation is to compare it with those great Roxy moments and, for the first time in years, those moments are here.

What more do you need to know?

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