Where exactly did the first quarter of 2012 go? The clocks are about to go forward – another hour lost. My daughter's now 29, I'm about to be 55. And even the treasured album I'm gearing up to write a longer piece about (Saint Dominic's Preview) is in its fortieth year. Time didn't used to run so fast, did it?
Anyway, some fragments I have shored against my ruins:
- Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball is better than the flurry of mainly 4* reviews suggested. Some reviewers seemed a bit overwhelmed initially, or thought he was going on a bit. As I live with it, I find I'm buoyed by its range and sweep and passion, not drained: the absolute killer trio of brave and uplifting songs that close the record – 'Rocky Ground', 'Land Of Hope And Dreams' and 'We Are Alive' – make me want to go straight back to the beginning again. Of course, it's not perfect and some of the clumsy lines (see 'We Take Care Of Our Own') can still rankle – but its overall strength means that doesn't matter: it carries you along. It's fascinating how the apparent leftfield diversion of the Seeger Sessions is now fully integrated into the Springsteen sound; and its further mutation into the Pogues-like martial stomp of 'Death To My Home Town' seems entirely natural. Hyde Park in July should be special, despite the large and Clarence-shaped hole in the band... Here's a taster from SXSW.
- it must be twenty years since I bought any new music on a cassette, then suddenly two come along: a limited edition release from The Young Obese from one of those glorious, quirky, labour-of-love labels Art Is Hard Records (who I came across because they will be releasing a 12" from the mighty GUM); and a fine sampler from another of those labels, which I've already recommended - The Great Pop Supplement.
- Jonquil's new album Point Of Go is a disappointment to me - well played and pleasant pop but the weirdness and charm of 2007's Lions, which I loved, seem to have slipped away with line-up changes and new production values. Maybe they always wanted to sound like this but have only now learnt how to...
- Toronto's finest, Wooden Sky, on the other hand, have another winner in Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun. Strongly crafted, creatively arranged, well sung: fine stuff. Sample them here. They would be ideal for Secret Sessions if they can be lured across the pond.
- Finally, for those who may still doubt that the universe has a deep structure and plan at its heart, what about this? At the very same time that we are thrilled to hear that Englebert Humperdinck will be carrying the UK's fragile hopes to Eurovision's killing fields, none other than Lyle Lovett decides to cover 'Release Me'. Mere synchronicity? I think not.