sun 07/06/2020

CD: Jimmy Somerville - Homage | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jimmy Somerville - Homage

CD: Jimmy Somerville - Homage

Infectious disco tribute from a man who knows the genre inside-out

Jimmy Somerville's 'Homage': his disco album

Disco was about the dancefloor: a music that delivered the goods in one-song bursts which made assembled revellers move. The album was not its natural home. Of course, the compilation thrives and albums with side-long tracks hit the right note, but an album entirely dedicated to disco by a single artist would struggle to have the impact of a single, killer cut. Jimmy Somerville’s Homage is, then, a brave release. The album is his tribute to the music he grew up with and which had always been an influence. It is his disco album.

Somerville has always explicitly acknowledged the influence. The sound coursed through Bronski Beat. With The Communards, he covered Harold Melvin’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. Solo, he took on Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel”. But Homage is all-original. It is also an album that sidesteps the digital. All the instruments – brass, percussion, strings – are the actual thing. Again, brave.

As would be expected from a man who knows the genre inside-out, Homage sounds spot-on. The arrangements are lush, while the production places latin-esque percussion and whacka-whacka guitar in just the right position. The rhythmic elements move the songs forward, but do not swamp the melodies. Somerville’s voice glides through and over the songs. On “This Hand” he is ecstatic.

The album moves between Philly groovers, the New York hustle, nods to Giorgio Moroder’s electronics and takes the tempo down with its shuffling, late-night closer “Learned to Talk”. Terrifically assured and infectious, Homage sounds like a greatest hits set that never was. Its heart beats with the vitality missing from Daft Punk’s lab-born Random Access Memories. Hopefully, Somerville will get a full band together to bring this to the stage.

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