Monday 27 March 2017

Music: Light After Dark by Clare Maguire **

(Polydor)

John Meagher

John Meagher

Clare Maguire, in her interview with this magazine last week, was keen to stress the irritation she feels with being compared to Bonnie Tyler. Musicians hate comparisons at the best of times, but Ms Tyler is not the sort of name any aspiring singer would want to be likened to.

Unfortunately, the young Birmingham newcomer is going to have to get used to the name-calling. Her voice is similarly huge and given to vocal gymnastics. And the songs she co-penned with songwriter-for-hire Fraser T Smith frequently stray into cheesy territory.

There's something of The X Factor about this album. Everything is focused on Maguire's singing and one can almost imagine Simon Cowell in the background urging her to "project" that bit more. The result is a batch of songs devoid of subtlety and -- for the most part -- charm.

There are echoes of Florence Welch here, but what made her album work so well was the sheer variety of songs and styles on offer. Light After Dark attacks the listener like a sledgehammer.

There are two songs that redeem the album from turkey status. The Happiest Pretenders has the hooks in the right place and, for once, the huge choruses don't undermine everything. And if it's a disco stomper you're after, look no further than The Last Dance. The latter sounds like ABBA meets Shirley Bassey.

Burn it: The Last Dance

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