Ratings and Reviews
Within the first thirty seconds of “Don’t Give the Game Away,” the opening
track to Swing Out Sister’s tenth studio album, "Almost Persuaded," it’s clear that in the nine years since the last album "Beautiful Mess the band has not lost a step on the road to auditory nirvana. The wintry intro of the track echoes much of the band’s 2001 cinematic opus "Somewhere Deep in the Night." Right on the heels of those first few seconds
comes a breeze of strings sounding as if they’d come straight from the UK duo’s
2004 sunshine-drenched marvel "Where Our Love Grows." It’s a very short wait
until Andy Connell’s sinuous soundscape gives nod to the counsel offered by
Corinne Drewery: “Just because you’re almost there/Doesn’t mean you’re going
make it.” It might bit disarming for some to hear such a throw-down from such a
smooth and velvet voice. But ever since the band’s 1999 masterpiece "Filth and
Dreams," it’s been clear that Drewery isn’t interested in Swing Out Sister’s oeuvre
being all flowers and sunsets. In fact, the title of that album alone speaks to the
band’s interest in contrasting moods and colors. With its hints of John Barry, Dusty Springfield, and a pinch of Ennio Morricone, “Don’t Give the Game Away” is really the James Bond theme song Swing Out Sister fans have been clamoring for.
If the darker hues of Drewery’s lyrics might give one pause, all concerns
are swept away in the infectious second track “Happier Than Sunshine,” a song
so feel good that Feel Good itself might blush while listening to it. It moves in a
slithering way as if the waves of sunlight can nudge the body the way waves in
The same can’t-sit- still beats are the blood rushing through equally
glistening tracks “Which Wrong is Right,” “Something Deep in Your Heart” and
especially “All in a Heartbeat,” which is hands down the album’s best upbeat
track. In its unfoolish optimism, it reminds one of the duo’s 2004 song “Happy
Ending.” It’s the sort of track one really shouldn’t listen to while driving because
when the chorus hits, reckless driving will ensue; and as the title suggests, the
song is a singular burst of the heart. When confronted with some of Connell’s
most unorthodox time-shifts, Drewery’s vocals leap, clutch, and grab with as sure
a grip as you realize you were hoping she’d have; it’s among her finest vocal
displays, of which there are so many over the past thirty years.
Though the joy of “All in a Heartbeat” is taken down a notch in the “All in a
Heartbeat” late night version, the magic remains and the result is one of those
trademark cinematic Swing Out Sister that become instant classics.
Much of the album seems to exist after sunset, and just as the cocktail
hour is winding down to the wonderfully nostalgiac “Until Tomorrow Forgets,” one
realizes that the moon deserves as much attention as the sun. No need to rush
home. If Roxy Music’s song “Avalon” was the last song at every 1980s party,
“Everybody’s Here” is a song that begs the question: do we really have call it a
night? After all, Connell’s piano leads Drewery to point out “Tomorrow will take its
time/Who knows what we’ll find/Starring in a show love left behind.”
The ghost of the aforementioned Dusty Springfield is in full force in the
song “I Wish I Knew,” which is the album’s most retro track, held aloft by
Connell’s music that keeps the retro vibe from ever becoming pastiche.
“Be My Valentine,” the album’s true ballad, is winsome and will
immediately (and rightfully) remind listeners of the band’s hit “Forever Blue.” If
nothing else, it highlights the fact that Drewery’s voice has grown branches of
gravitas that enrich every word she sings. And nowhere else is this most evident
than in the album’s title track “Almost Persuaded.” If “Don’t Give the Game Away”
is the perfect Bond song never used, then “Almost Persuaded,” is the song John
Barry needed to shift the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack from perfection to
Swing Out Sister has found a way to adapt to the times while still remaining in
charge of their vision. If music, as novelist Lawrence Durrell once wrote “was
invented to confirm human loneliness,” Swing Out Sister echo that thought but
make sure to point out the bittersweet beauty in that loneliness. It’s a gift few
artists can ever share, much less achieve.
More gorgeously timeless moments from SwingOutSister.
Lush, sophisticated sounds as always. Clever melodies, evocative phrases, shimmering production quality.
‘Happier Than Sunshine’....’Be My Valentine’.
A sip - a stroll - a slide into that first class seat; SOS are still masters of mood, making music-to-see-the-world-by for 30+ years, without ever sounding dated. A dreamscape for good days.
I have been a long time fan of Swing Out Sister and very proud that I had a chance to help crowd-fund this new album on another platform. Once again Corinne and Andy created a rich, gorgeous, jazz-infused album. Almost Persuaded is one of the best songs they've ever written. I hope they decide to tour the US, but if they don't, I'd better travel :) to finally see them in person after 30 years of listening. Beautiful work!