x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse: Dark Night of the Soul

An idiosyncratic collection of indie and hip-hop serves as a tribute to the late Mark Linkous.

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Delayed by months of legal wrangling, the release of this joint project from Danger Mouse (producer Brian Burton) and Sparklehorse was also eclipsed by the death of Mark Linkous, the spectral, troubled force behind Sparklehorse who committed suicide in March this year. As a tribute to him, this idiosyncratic collection of indie and hip-hop-flavoured tracks is fittingly impressive, featuring a glittering alumni including David Lynch (who also provides accompanying photographs), Iggy Pop, Frank Black, The Flaming Lips, Julian Casablancas, Suzanne Vega and the late Vic Chesnutt. The results occupy an enchanting place somewhere between playfulness and heartache; The Flaming Lips' Floyd-like opener capturing the mood of the title on Revenge; The Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys bringing a dreamy wistfulness to Just War. Iggy brightens the mood with the glitzy Pain, while Julian Casablanca's punky Little Girl is another highlight. Even with such diverse contributions, the psychedelic folk-rock wanderings and introspective lyrics mean Linkous's presence is never far away, and when he sings the almost unbearably poignant Daddy's Gone, you have to remind yourself that he said making this album was a "happy time". A special finale to a brilliant if all-too-brief career.

Sheryl Crow
100 Miles From Memphis
(A&M)
Crow goes a little bit soul on her seventh album - the title and Stax-style strings and grooves announcing her return to the musical roots of her birthplace. Keith Richards lends some ska riffs, while Justin Timberlake throws a lifeline to the marketing men on a cover of Terence Trent D'Arby's Sign Your Name.

Sting
Synphonicities
(Decca)
In case you miss Sting's latest tour with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, where he performs classical reworkings of songs from his back catalogue, this puzzling and equally unnecessary compilation of the results can be yours. Roxanne gets a cello solo; Sting concedes in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, "For some people, I am a pretentious prat."