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Bryan Ferry - Avonmore (Album Review)

Friday, 21 November 2014 Written by Gavin Rees

With the book closed on Roxy Music (again) the emergence of a new Bryan Ferry solo record is, at the very least, emblematic of the man’s creative drive. ‘Avonmore’ follows a fun diversion in ‘The Jazz Age’, offering up a hefty, albeit sedate, wedge of romantic melancholy.

With Ferry happy to utilise his voice’s sombre, hushed register more often than not, ‘Avonmore’ is a lush, brooding piece characterised by the depth of its production - courtesy of Ferry and Rhett Davies - and, fleetingly, by a few dexterous melodies.

Soldier of Fortune, co-written with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, is one moment where Ferry punctures the mood with a subtle, slow-burn chorus, while Driving Me Wild manages a similar trick despite its more formulaic, wah-inflected backing, which comes courtesy of another guest: Nile Rodgers.

Ferry is in fine fettle throughout, steering the ship as a litany of stars - Mark Knopfler, Maceo Parker, Steve Jones or Flea, take your pick - come and go. In tone and delivery, it is unmistakably his.

It’s interesting, then, that its best moment is its most collaborative, and also one that’s been released before. His combination with Todd Terje on a cover of Robert Palmer’s Johnny and Mary is atmospheric, heartstring-tuggingly beautiful and screaming out to be the start of a fruitful relationship between Ferry and the Norwegian producer.

‘Avonmore’ has its moments, but is likely to leave Ferry devotees reaching for unflattering comparisons from the past. It’s proof that he’s got miles in the tank, but not his finest hour.

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