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What's Inside

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Album Review

This reissue of Joan Armatrading's all but unnoticed 1995 RCA debut is welcome as a way of reconsidering a solid, sweeping, elegant, and heartbreaking album that should have made a mark because it proved beyond any doubt that Armatrading was, as she remains in 2003, a viable, profound songwriter capable of offering striking, imagistic portraits of complex emotional terrain. Produced by David Tickle and Armatrading, the cast of players includes everyone from the Kronos Quartet ("Shapes and Sizes") to Benmont Tench, Tony Levin, Alex Acuña, Manu Katche, the Memphis Horns ("Can't Stop Loving You"), and the London Metropolitan Orchestra's string section, with Armatrading holding down the guitar chair with aplomb. "Merchant of Love," "Everyday Boy," and "Recommend My Love" are the finest songs here, but there's not a weak one in this weighty bunch. The Denon reissue comes with a bonus DVD that contains the videos for "Everyday Boy" and "Recommend My Love." This is a must for fans, and highly recommended as pop music for anyone confused by the vagaries of love in the 21st century.

Customer Reviews

Undiscovered Gem

An absolute gem of an album. Standouts for me are 'Merchant of Love', 'Songs' and 'Trouble', but there really isn't a weak track to be found. If you like John Armatrading or even if you're not that familiar with her work, buy it, you won't be sorry.

Rediscovered Joan

I remember coming across Joan Armatrading playing live on the Old Grey Whistle Test. She was quite astounding, and I was quite young, but became hooked and bought all her early LPs which were the soundtrack to my life at the time. Somehow, that life got in the way and I lost touch, but then came across this by accident - in the late 90s I guess. Every song on it is really strong. My personal favourite is "Lost in Love", however, when we chose two tracks for the "register signing" when we "got hitched" it didn't seem entirely appropriate so we settled for the wonderful "Shapes and Sizes" and "Songs" - s spot more upbeat. I did, however, sneak "Lost in Love" into the play list at the big bash afterwards!
I've seen Joan play live twice in the past 5 years or so. I've never quite understood why she doesn't really play any numbers from this album in her live set. I guess that none were as big as hits such as "Love and Affection" and "Willow" and she has done other albums since. I have been very lucky and did get to meet her. She was really lovely and and is outstanding live, so please go see her if you get the chance and buy this album. You won't regret it!


Born: 09 December 1950 in Basseterre, St. Kitts

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Born in 1950 on the island of St. Kitts, Joan Armatrading was her country's -- as well as Britain's -- first female to gain international success as a singer/songwriter. Spicing her take on folk with elements of rock, blues, and jazz, she has had a remarkably long, consistent career. Armatrading immigrated to England in 1958 and began writing songs six years later. In 1970, she met lyricist Pam Nestor, and the two began collaborating on material later featured on Armatrading's 1972 debut, Whatever's...
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Top Albums and Songs by Joan Armatrading