CD: Jethro Tull - The String Quartets. Is Ian Anderson's new LP faux-classical or just its own t

From The Arts Desk On Jethro Tull's classic "Songs from the Wood" Ian Anderson promised "all things refined". And refined the band certain has been. Musically educated, too. For 40-odd years they have specialised in baroque rock and minstrel ballads all served up with harpsichords and flutes. There were even a couple of albums featuring a full orchestra. Yet, notably, string quartets have only made the occasional appearance. In a way, then, you could say an album like this is actually a little overdue. The thing is, though, Jethro Tull – The String Quartets isn't really a Tull album. Nor is it even really an Ian Anderson LP. For the most part, this is the sound of arranger John O'Hara and th

CD: Conor Oberst - Salutations. The re-recording of his magnum opus is more mellow - but is it as go

From The Arts Desk Conor Oberst's 2016 LP, Ruminations, was seen by many as both a triumph and milestone. A triumph because of the acclaim it attracted; and a milestone because it finally packed the emotional punch the singer-songwriter had been promising for years. The album was recorded in Nebraska during a particularly dark period in the artist's life - the combination of a brain cyst and a false accusation of rape. Armed with just a piano and a guitar, he compressed his emotions into a state of almost exquisite angst. Now, he's recorded the songs all over again. Salutations is, apparently, how Oberst originally conceived the album, before deciding to release the demos. This time around w

CD: Laura Marling - Semper Femina. The album of the singer's tattoo motto is designed to make yo

From The Arts Desk Laura Marling's new album is called Semper Femina - two words the singer-songwriter also has tattooed on her leg. It's Latin for "always a woman". Despite having the motto inscribed on her flesh, Marling claims to find it hard to write intimately about other women. Hence the singer describing her recent spell in Los Angeles as a particularly "masculine time" causing her now to look "specifically at women". Full marks for ambition, some might feel, but might she be overthinking it? If the underlying rationale can seem a tad laboured, the music is anything but. Fans will be familiar with how her albums are balanced between music that plugs straight into the soul and other, m

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