Stacey Kent
The Changing Lights
Parlophone ****
Opening bravely with an initially very slow version of ‘This Happy Madness’, a Gene Lees link in the lyrics retained from 2011’s Dreamer in Concert, there’s an immediate contentedness, yet somehow also a slight realisation of unease at the feeling, about The Changing Lights, particularly in the very fine title track on which this 13-song album’s success ultimately depends. Sequenced slap, bang in the middle, the song is a slightly smug but quite revealing tale of cities, the romance and random if transient friendship of it all, the memory, and the music: “I remember bossa nova on the breeze”, Stacey sings against Graham Harvey's quietly unfolding piano accompaniment and John Parricelli's textural guitar. A couple as observers, lovers, united against the world watching the nine-to-five trudgery of commuters who could be "the walking dead", from the haven of the taxi they can’t afford, recognising the changes they see in time, place, and ultimately themselves, symbolised by the lights, a falling of the day. Fundamentally a samba album illuminated laconically by Jim Tomlinson’s signature Getzian touches and dotted with his and novelist Kazuo Ishiguro’s new songs besides their title track and which also include ‘The Summer We Crossed Europe in the Rain’, it’s an album where passion is suspended, yet where a youthful innocence still abounds, an aching longing for the past somehow rekindled by the forces of memory and the music of the night. Released on 16 September