sat 13/07/2024

CD: Bryan Ferry - Avonmore | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Bryan Ferry - Avonmore

CD: Bryan Ferry - Avonmore

The song remains fairly similar... but that's OK

Remind us when you last looked like this, Bryan?

If you glanced too hastily at the sleeve you might think Bryan Ferry had made another album called Avalon, that epitome of the sleek autumnal heyday of Roxy Music. But no. Avonmore, though it may sound like a single malt whisky, is named after Ferry's studio complex in West London, not far from Olympia which gave him the title of a previous album in 2010.

Avonmore is a worthy addition to the string of solo albums (the self-written ones, rather than his parallel stream of covers discs or the peculiar Twenties throwback The Jazz Age) which Ferry has made since the Eighties, with 1985's Boys and Girls having established the template. Produced and arranged with a fastidiousness bordering on psychosis, usually with Rhett Davies at the control board (as he is here), a Ferry album is the Savile Row suit of popular music. Tasteful, trustworthy and aghast at the idea of vulgar displays of emotion, these artefacts are virtually Edwardian in spirit, despite the oodles of cutting-edge technology which has been poured into them.

"Loop De Li" is the immaculately conceived opener, lovingly machined by a swarm of the finest musicians that it's possible to bribe into a studio. It's one of those perfect Ferry grooves, rubbery and funky and infinitesimally laced with micro-accents and tiny instrumental details. Fittingly, its title is delectably singable nonsense.

Despite a cast list that boasts Nile Rodgers, Mark Knopfler, Johnny Marr and Chris Spedding, there's nothing here that threatens to topple "Slave To Love", that Koh-i-Noor of mature Ferry-hood, but fans will happily groove along to the Milk Tray melodrama of "Midnight Train" or the ironic "passion" of "Driving Me Wild". Bry's voice is going a bit soggy round the edges, but he manages to muster some Essence of Croon for "A Special Kind of Guy".

He couldn't resist a cover or two, but should have. "Send In the Clowns" smothers Sondheim's acidic edge in querulous mawkishness, while Robert Palmer's "Johnny and Mary" wasn't much cop to begin with, let alone after Bry has had his way with it. But hey, at least the old boy's doing his best to get out there and kick some ass.

Overleaf: watch Bryan Ferry perform "Loop De Li" on Later with Jools Holland

Produced with a fastidiousness bordering on psychosis, a Ferry album is the Savile Row suit of popular music


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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More enjoyable than Olympia but not quite as listenable as Frantic, Avonmore collects the rejects that weren't good enough for his previous albums, going back as far as Taxi (Send in the Clowns - Sondheim will be turning in the early grave that this will send him to). Personal favourites are the title track and Driving Me Wild (from the Frantic days?), however it remains another disappointing album from the Ferry stable of second-hand output ... 6/10.

Pretty fair assessment, Planet

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