Bryan Ferry – Bitter-Sweet

A jazz-soaked return from the legendary vocalist...

Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry adds blues, jazz and swing instrumentation to some of his best-known work thus proving that he can innovate his stylings to a new era of music with his latest album ‘Bitter-Sweet’.

The 13-track release – which includes eight vocal tracks – comes two years after 'The Jazz Age' which consisted entirely of instrumental recordings. The solo album, inspired by his work on Netflix series Babylon Berlin, is a “remake” of his past music which invokes a sense of nostalgia while managing to put a modern twist.

Starting off with the zig-zagging arrangement of violins, banjo and thumping wood blocks layered with Ferry’s hushed vocals, is 'Alphaville'. Before moving into the haunting, echoey 'Reason Or Rhyme', a track that makes great use of tenor saxophones and muted trumpets. The track seamlessly blends into the upbeat instrumental 'Sign Of The Times' as another dance-worthy number takes over in the form of dreamy disco track 'Limbo', before slow-build 'New Town' leaves you with a sense of anticipation.

However, the stand-out track comes in the form of minimalist track 'Zamba' taken Ferry’s 1987 solo album ‘Bête Noire’. With spine-tingling synths and a soaring string section led by Ferry’s hoarse whisper of a vocal, the track is something old, yet something completely new.

Other highlights include 'While My Heart Is Still Beating' from Roxy Music’s swirling final studio album and 'Dance Away' which prompts you do as the name suggests with its flowing, light-hearted instrumentals.

While many of the tracks within the offering keep you listening on, the pace of the album seems to slow after 'Zamba', and you are tempted to skip ahead if you are not the biggest fan of jazz as some tracks such 'Bitters End' and 'Chance Meeting' don’t make as much of an impact as the rest of the brilliant production.

Overall, the album – filled with as much theatrical swagger as great music- is much more than just a remake as Ferry’s baritone vocals and inventive arrangements make for an album that invokes a lot more than nostalgia; with the ability to attract new fans as well as hold the old.


Words: Malvika Padin

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