Olly Murs: Right Place, Right Time (Columbia)
He is nearly a household name in his native United Kingdom where Olly Murs was runner up on The X Factor a couple of years ago. Murs has also enjoyed more than a few big hits on the Brit airwaves.
I think this new release is Murs North American debut, whatever that means in this day and age of downloaded music.
Right Time, Right Place (perhaps suggesting the ‘chance’ and ‘luck’ aspects of the fickle music industry) is a 10-track collection that borrows a few hits from last year’s album along with a few newer songs.
Murs has scored a hit in Canada with Troublemaker, featuring a rap from Flo-Rida but only time will tell if Murs’ career blossoms in America as it has in his native U.K.
It may not be the right time and place for this frothy dance pop as the field is mighty crowded already and Olly Murs may not hit the spotlight on this side of the pond.
His label, and manager Simon Cowell, have surrounded Murs with the star making talents behind the likes of Natasha Bedingfield, Shakira, Kylie Minogue, etc., but should Murs highly polished dance pop founder on our shores it would be no great loss. Murs songs never get beyond the boy/girl, lets dance and puppy love realms which is fine for a callow lad like Bieber but as Murs closes in on his 30s, he comes across as a little too lightweight.
Willie Nelson and Family: Lets Face The Music And Dance (Sony)
On the 30th of this month Willie Nelson will turn 80 years old.
This album with his ‘family,’ as he calls his touring band, finds the soon to be octogenerian visiting The Great American Songbook with his own inimitable style.
This album is very laid back as if Willie was recording this with his small combo just ambling along in his comfy front room. The opener is the title track and Irving Berlin evergreen Let’s Face The Music And Dance that has a gentle, rootsy, country-samba groove.
Other songs on this 14-track album explore acoustic rockabilly on Carl Perkins’ Matchbox while their is a cool jazzy shuffle to Frank Loesser’s I Wish I Didn’t Have To Love You.
There is a handsome take of Django (the D is silent) Reinhardt’s Nuages while on yet another Berlin classic, Maria (The Dawn Is Breaking), Willie and co. break into a little light swing.
There is a fabulous yet understated take of the gem Walking My Baby Back Home that is so cuddly it will warm the cockles of your heart.
Meanwhile, the breezy take of Dorothy Fields’ I Can’t Give You Anything But Love and the Texas Norteno strains of I’ll Keep On Loving You absolutely sells you on this relaxed album.
Harp player Mickey Raphael is wonderful here as the unsung hero.
Heathers: Kingdom (Sony)
It is just Heathers without the ‘the’ and they are the twin sisters Ellie and Louise Macnamara out of Dublin.
The twins are in their early 20s and their blend of youthful folk pop is exhilarating with tight harmonies and likeable songs.
The feature track here is the exuberant Forget Me Knots that has a momentum not unlike their Emerald Island colleagues U2 with its inexorable buildup and lasting hooks.
More telling might be the album cut Undergrowth Beneath that sounds like Sinnead O’Connor fronting Coldplay, especially with the strong piano play upfront.
The lead off song and my fave track Circular Road has a hint of ’60s girl group pop in its mix with its hand claps while the mellower ballad Lions Tigers Bears has a pretty synth-pop groove that will draw inevitable comparisons to The Corrs.
Producer Max Dingle (The Hoosiers) backs the duo with a small combo that nicely fleshes out Heathers songs and my references to The Corrs, Coldplay and U2 means that the gals are also ready for arena performances.
I like Heathers chances with this enticing debut album that grows with repeated listens.