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Kevin Bryan's Record Reviews

By KevinBryan  |  Posted: February 03, 2014

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                        Suzanne Vega,"Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles" (Cooking Vinyl)- Singer-songwriter Vega's first new studio album since 2007 takes listeners on an engrossing journey of discovery as it explores the intersections between the material world and the world of the spirit. The contents were recorded at various locations in Europe and America during the past few years ,and capture   Suzanne and her gifted cohorts at their  most warm and organic  as they sashay through exquisitely crafted gems such as  "Portrait of the Knight of Wands." "Crack in the Wall"  and her poignant tribute to the late Vaclav Havel,"Horizon (There Is A Road)."

                         Julia Fischer,"Sarasate" (Decca 4785950)- This sparkling new vehicle for the instrumental artistry of Julia Fischer finds the violinist  coming to terms with the technical demands imposed on her technique by the collected works of Pablo de Sarasate. The  Spanish composer's  flambuoyant repertoire may often be criticised  for its  lack of  complexity and depth but these  dance inspired virtuosic pieces certainly repay closer investigation,most notably "Caprice basque" and the original version of the much loved "Zigeunerweisen" for violin and piano.

                         Little Devils,"About Time" (LD 003)- An excellent bluesy romp from up and coming London band Little  Devils, who've established  a solid reputation for themselves on the U.K. and mainland Europe live circuit  since their formation in 2010. The seven track EP captures this eclectic outfit in particularly fine fettle as they serve up  compelling creations such as  "Good Times" and "The Waiter,"  with larger than life frontperson Yoka dominating the proceedings  on flute,saxophone  and lead vocals.

                          Nina Persson,"Animal Heart" (Lojinx Records)- Nina Persson is probably  best known as the lead vocalist of Swedish pop outfit The Cardigans of "My Favourite Game" fame but the tuneful chanteuse has now decided to branch out as a solo performer in her own right ,and the eagerly anticipated  "Animal Heart"  is the first album that has appeared under her own name since she took her first faltering steps on the path to stardom long long ago in 1992. The finished product is  liberally peppered with unashamedly commercial ditties such as  "Food For The Beast," "Jungle"  and "Animal Heart" itself as Nina revisits her radio pop roots  with consistently excellent results.

                          "Essential Tavener" (Decca 478 6424)- This absorbing anthology  celebrates the memory of the late Sir John Tavener as it brings together many of  the uniquely contemplative and spiritual compositions  which have captured the hearts of  classical music devotees during the past few decades. Much of Tavener's finest work was inspired by his reception into the Orthodox Church in 1977,including "Song for Athene," "Funeral Ikos" and "A Christmas Round," and no Tavener compilation would be complete without an extract from his cello masterwork "The Protecting Veil," performed here by soloist Natalie Clein.

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