Albums of the Year 2018: St Vincent - MassEducation The New Yorker's once-more-with-feeling rebo

From The Arts Desk Sometimes it seems that the more complex life becomes, the less interested we are in simple emotion. Take, for instance, 2017's Masseduction by St Vincent (aka Annie Clark). No-one could fault how artfully Clark expressed contemporary gender politics. But that was also its weakness. On about half the album, the songs sounded like a Guardian article set to music. This year Clark re-recorded the LP as a simple piano-and-voice piece, MassEducation. It was an utter revelation. Suddenly, the tracks sounded like Tori Amos in her heyday - full of beauty, and anger and sorrow. That quickly made it my favourite album of the year. The other CD's I spent a lot of time with were all s

Eric Clapton - Happy Xmas How festive does Slowhand get?

From The Arts Desk Christmas is traditionally that time of the year when cool rock-dudes like to come over all silly and tinselly. Not Eric Clapton. On this, his first Christmas LP, the veteran axe-man spurns the usual seasonal schmaltz, in favour of some good old-fashioned blues. The results, unsurprisingly, go a little easy on the comfort and joy. Xmas chez Clapton it would seem, is more about melancholy and regret. The start of "White Christmas", for instance, could almost be an outtake from "Me and Mr Johnson". Similarly "Away in A Manger" is virtually "Run So Far". If you're a sucker for EC's back catalogue you'll surely enjoy his take on the Christmas standards. That, however, is only

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