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The Shouting Stage

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Album Review

The good news is that, after several albums of flirting with rock and overproduction, Joan Armatrading has developed a spare sound once again focusing on her songs and singing, backed by such tasteful accompanists as Dire Straits members Mark Knopfler and Alan Clark. The not-so-good news is that, lyrically, Armatrading seems trapped in a romantic cul-de-sac — when she doesn't have the object of her affections, she longs for him, but when she does have him, she argues with him and suspects him of infidelity, not to mention emotional abuse. There is a traditional sense of relationships mixed in with hints of the nascent "men just don't get it" flavor of '90s feminism. One is tempted to say that you can't have it both ways, but then Armatrading's emotional outpourings have always had more to do with contemporaneous honesty than long-term consistency.


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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