The British are frequently characterised as being self-controlled, self-contained and repressed, yet we may be more dramatic than given credit for. It’s certainly possible to witness sudden moments of drama on Alison Moyet’s Minutes and Seconds – Live, perhaps as a reminder that British residents can be subject to instances of spontaneous human combustion (although this is most typically caused by poor living conditions, in particular too many of us living in too small a space with a steady supply of sub-standard food). This live album, a follow-up to the highly charged 2013 studio album the minutes and billed as capturing some of the finest moments from the accompanying tour, frequently flares into glowing filaments of hot intensity.
The Minutes was written with and produced by Guy Sigsworth, and a success due to some great songs and exciting electronic arrangements. Moyet’s reputation is most probably as a grand chanteuse, but The Minutes was a return to the more innovative days of Yazoo. For the tour, Moyet was joined on stage by John Garden (keys, guitars and programming) and Sean McGhee (backing vocals, synthesizer, guitar and programming) and this record shows the trio is a great fit. Moyet sounds enthused singing in her delightful Essex vowels, and the backing provided by Garden and McGhee is always complementary. The playing is precise, resonant and minimalist, making the times of drama flash in and out of focus resolutely.
Songs from the record are well reproduced, particularly the stormy weather of “When I Was Your Girl” and the modern swirl of “Changeling”. “Filigree” is prefaced by some Moyet chat as she engagingly sets the scene for the song, which is about enjoying the brief moments of happiness in life.
The older songs are re-interpreted organically in a programmed format to avoid Moyet becoming her own tribute act. Previous solo albums are well represented by a beautiful slow-motion version of “Is This Love?” and deconstructed versions of “All Cried Out” and “Ordinary Girl”. Yazoo fans are rewarded with updates of “Only You” and “Situation”. Overall Moyet knows how to deal with her past, and the vivid, dreamy landscapes make the future seem warmly present. The point is clearly made: make the most of what you’ve got now. So this one is well worth a listen, but do as I say, not as I do: don’t waste your life listening to great pop music like this.
Label: Cooking Vinyl
Release Date: 11 NOV 2014
FIRST PUBLISHED POPMATTERS 13 Jan 2015