Ferry’s Avonmore Is a Good Feeling

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Bryan Ferry’s latest, Avonmore, may suffer from the respect given to his back catalogue, but if you can look past what once was you will enjoy a very fine album. Avonmore sounds like an updated version of Roxy Music’s best output, those mid-70s art rock albums, though it has a very definite life of its own.  It’s one of those LPs I expected nothing from because a friend of mine told me it wasn’t worth the effort of listening to and the reviews were lukewarm.  When I heard “Soldier of Fortune” and “Driving Me Wild” I was immediately impressed and had one of those awakening moments, actually recalling what it was like to listen to new music back in the 70s.  It’s a good feeling.

The compositional elements that made Roxy Music so interesting in their time are further explored here, such things as dance bass overlaid with strings and Ferry’s voice on the title track. There’s even an oboe on “Loop De Li” for old times’ sake.  The music has that sophistication and depth we always associate with Ferry and Roxy Music.

Ferry & Friends

This rigour isn’t spared on the two covers either; “Send in the Clowns” and “Johnny & Mary” are both given the full Ferry treatment. Who’d have thought a new version of “Send in the Clowns” could be a good idea? Probably few, but Ferry and Friends pull it off so well it actually is somewhat reborn to those of us who’ve heard the many versions over the years.  Not a bad accomplishment. “Johnny & Mary” may be more recognized as the music for Renault commercials than as a minor Robert Palmer hit and it is an interesting choice for a cover for that reason; it’s actually a fascinating choice, given the care and love with which it is covered.

All eight original songs are given that careful treatment as well and musicians such Johnny Marr, Marcus Miller, Flea, Oliver Thompson, Mark Knopfler, Paul Turner, and many, many others contribute to this compelling album.  Somehow, even with this large company of musicians, Avonmore has a wonderful coherence. It’s a very nice surprise for those of us who may have forgotten what it’s like to hear this kind of music for the first time.   



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