Wednesday, 26 February 2014

BECK'S MORNING PHASE

Moving from mourning into morning, as the poem by Barker goes, Beck, the magpie musician who rose to fame in 1994 with the cult hit slacker classic Mellow Gold, with silly but fun songs, has become, over time, arguably the best singer-songwriter-composer of his generation, a post-modern Bob Dylan.  Oddly, he is a scientologist, but then again, Prince is a Jehovah's Witness - musicians are an odd lot.  I liked some of his albums a lot, especially the moody, dreamy ones.

Anyway, as everyone knows (the media blitz has been huge) he is back after six years with Morning Phase, an album modelled on the Wilson classic Laurel Canyon style of the moody 70s.  This is the sequel to his best album, and least zany, Sea Change, from 2002, now considered something of a classic.  Beck's albums are now prized events, because they are so well-wrought, and lovingly crafted.  Morning Phase will be on Eyewear's list of the best albums of 2014 - it may well top it.

This album is certainly the most lyrical and beautiful album I have heard in several years.  It is achingly gorgeous in places - 'Wave' especially - with strings and arrangements that are a full gift to the listener.  It as if James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot and Nelson Riddle had worked together with Paul McCartney to craft an album of tender sad winter morning light, perfect for herbal tea.  Few albums can be put on to play over and over, without some clatter or break of mood or purpose or dip in quality, but here we have oceanic quality and depth.  David Sylvian has given us an album of this quality, as has Mazzy Star.  It is lovely to think Beck's career has now given us twenty years of great and increasingly fine work - here is hoping he decides to focus on his country twangs and soaring strings in future.
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