Quick Music Reviews: Latest Releases February 2018

Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It (Universal)

Something new pops up on my music radar almost every week. Most of the time I dismiss a lot of what I hear, but occasionally I am in awe of something that I’ve heard. When Nashville-based, Perth born, Bex Chilcott, aka Ruby Boots, fuzzed-out guitar tickled the inner cochlea of my ear with her infectious opening track on her second album Don’t Talk About It, it was time to drop everything and pay attention.

It’s difficult to not be impressed by Ruby Boots as she unapologetically asserts herself across a well-balanced album. Her electric guitar roars on It’s So Cruel and on my favourite track of the album Believe In Heaven. She also cleverly mixes it up with acoustic arrangements. While Boots may come across as fiery and often up for the fight, with her dynamic guitar hooks, she is happy to show her tender side on the album too, particularly on the ballads Break My Heart Twice and the albums standout track I Am Woman. That said, exposing her vulnerable side only seems to make her stronger.

Justin Timberlake – Man of the Woods (RCA)

“This album is really inspired by my son, my wife, my family, but more so than any other album I’ve ever written, where I’m from and it’s personal,” Timberlake said in the promotion video in the lead up to Man of the Woods release. Honestly, I’m finding it difficult to swallow Justin Timberlake’s sincerity with how he initially went about promoting it. I guess I naively expected to hear something different with an album title like that, something that resembled his southern roots. The only thing southern about this album is the guest appearance of country blues guitarist Chris Stapleton on Say Something. But that song alone hardly sounds anything like the country, blues or even folk vibe I was hoping for. The song Flannel just might be the only thing that does!

In hindsight now I just wish he said he was going to release a future-funk-pop album without all the bullshit. Seriously, I like to dance, so just tell me, that I’m going to expect to hear all the beat minded grooves of your past albums. In short, I’m really disappointed. There is nothing innovative here. I might as well listen to Justified (2002) instead, still of one the best R&B pop dance albums of the past twenty years.

Various Artists – Triple J’s Hottest 100 Volume 25 (ABC/Universal Music Australia)

Can you believe it Triple j’s Hottest 100 just celebrated its 25th year as arguably the most talked about and listened to Australian radio event of the year, counting down the hottest songs of 2017! This year’s compulsory buy Triple J’s Hottest 100 Volume 25 is packed with what listeners believed were last years biggest and best songs. For music enthusiast out there, who are unaware of how this list is complied, it is quite simply. Music listeners are invited to vote for their favourite songs of the year through a poll over a two week period. The results are collate and countdown from 100 to 1 in late January.

The number one song of 2017 was taken out by Kendrick with his smash hit Humble. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise, since his album Damn topped many music publication lists. This double album, of course, doesn’t contain the entire 100 songs from the countdown. Only 43 of the year’s best songs are featured, but nonetheless they are still worthy of being played often and repeatedly.

Sarah Blasko – Depth of Field (EMI Music)

Depth of Field is my pick for the best album released so far this year. That’s how impressed I am by it. It’s haunting, personal and achingly beautiful across ten tracks, and it’s fair to say that the 41 year-old Blasko hasn’t lost her incredible knack of producing sophisticated pop. Interestingly, I think, Blasko is often at her best when she is performing against expectation. With this album you are left to wonder how much of this album is personal, maybe not necessarily autobiographical in intent, but definitely a showcase of inspired experiences or stories of others.

Like all great albums there are songs that stay with you even after you have stopped listening to them. On Depth of Field, I especially like Phantom and its line “I’m gonna fill my lungs with you/ My phantom heartbeat!” Then there are those deep bass and synth sounds from Everybody Wants To Sin. It’s dreamy and daring. And if we are going to talk about this album being sophisticated pop, the mesmerising and haunting Never Let Me Go, A ShotHeaven Sent and Making It Up are all standout tracks.

Photo Credit: The header image is a collage of all four albums that I have reviewed above. They are courtesy of EMI Music Australia, Universal MusicAustralia, RCA and Universal. I make use of them under the rationale of fair use because no free equivalent seems to exist and they serve as the primary means of visual identification at the top of my article dedicated to the reviews in question. I am not the uploader of the You Tube clip embedded here.