WOW! This stunning. literally perfect new studio album by the inimitable, off-the-wall Grace Jones (her first project since 1989's Bulletproof Heart) far surpassed what i'd originally expected. Now, don't get me wrong, i've always loved the weird but wonderful Grace Jones, but had long since given up hope of her returning to the music scene, let alone with such concise precision, depth and fire. Her last project Bulletproof Heart was a rather hit-and-miss affair, alternated by some stunning results (Love On Top Of Love<, Bulletproof Heart and On My Way) and some rather forgettable, nondescript recordings. Bulletproof Heart failed to re-capture the glories of Grace Jones recognised masterpieces - Warm Leatherette (1980), Nightclubbing (1981) and Slave To The Rhythm (1985). On the excellent albums Warm Leathrette, Nightclubbing and Living My Life (1982), Grace had been teamed with those two renowned Reggae wizards: Slyn Dunbar and Robbie Shakespere. They were the classic Compass Point Sessions. So, if anything, buying this brand new CD by Grace Jones was largely out of curiosity. I was immediately delighted to see Grace had hooked back up with Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakepere for Hurricane. From the opening track, i knew this album was going to be RED HOT and a WINNER! This was not least backed up some of the critics reviews that have been unanimous in their praise for Hurricane, many correctly stating that this was a significant comeback for Grace Jones.
Hurricane(2008) is a deep, reflective, often spiritual piece of work by the legendary Grace Jones. On tracks such as Williams Blood and I'm Crying (Mothers Tears) the songs are almost autobiographical. The profound and uniquely personal lyrics intertwine tremendously into the urban-flavoured, often stark, yet utterly compelling muscial landscapes. The sounds and textures encapulate a cruising blend of Reggae-Rasta-R&B-Funk-Dance. The tinkling ebbs, flows, swirling, effectively mesmerising arrangements make for a pure sonic masterpiece, with instantly memroable results.
The jumpy, pumping, pulsating rhythms that zoom in and out of This Is, re-captures Grace Jones old familiar style of part-speaking and part-singing through the verses and chrous. There are also sporadic, sprightly guirtar interludes which provides a good musical backdrop. The haunting, synchronised chanting and backing vocals proceed to give This Is a trancey, atmospheric vibe.
The spiritual undertones, and somewhat autobiographical, Williams Blood blends synthesised sound effects with a smooth-tempoed R&B beat. This gradually leads to a sizzling, Gospel-like climax. At the close of Williams Blood, Grace recites a brief passage from the spiritual song Amazing Grace. Williams Blood sounds perfect for Urban radio.
Meanwhile, the startling Corporate Cannibal sees Grace Jones heading back in the direction of the underground club scene (where she has continued to enjoy a loyal following). A well-acknowledged fact about Grace Jones is that she has always had a major following by Gay men and Corporate Cannibal marks a commendable return to the Urban club scene. The eerie, sopening sound effects flwo steadily into a mid-tempo, slowly rolling beat with lots of spiralling rhythms and a ferociuous-sounding performance by Grace, who reminds us all that she can be extremly scary when she chooses to be! The climatic Psychedelic-like, in-your-face guiratr riff is a real belter!
I'm Crying (Mothers Tears) is one of Grace Jones most personal and profound tracks on Hurricane. This reflective, stylish R&B number proves that, when called for, Grace can certainly deliver a very beautiful, understated quality in her voice. Another song thats perfect for Urban radio.
Well, Well, Well, following an abrupt, topsy-turvy drum interlude, spins into funk-driven Reggae and emerges as one of the most catchy songs of the project. It welcomingly harks back to the sounds of her early 1980's work with Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespere. Infact Well Well Well wouldnt sound out of place on either Warm Leatherette or Nightclubbing (the latter being an album that was voted Album Of The Year in 1981 by readers of the New Musical Express</> magazine).
The stormy title track Hurricane is something of a hypnotic masterpiece! The sweeping and pounding wave of multi-layered arrangements are complimented by Grace's assertive voacl performance. Her voice is often synchronised on this powerful, contagious, atmospheric number.
Love You To Life is another hip, trancey R&B-Club number with stark efefcts and compelling musical undertones of Reggae-Rasta. The hypnotic-like chrous, where Grace is joined by a soaring Gospel choir, is extremely striking and vastly infectious!
Hurricane then begins winding down with another mellow, late-night R&B number with a driving Jamacian vibe Sunset, Sunrise. This other atmospheric number careers along at a dreamy, mellow pace. On the final number Devil In My Life, Grace rides along a high tidal wave of multi-layered arrangements, including prominent, erratic violin interludes that provide a seamless musical backdrop. Devil In My Life sounds the ideal track to be lifted as a single, or, again, crack the Urban radio market. A fabulous ending to this critically-acclaimed masterpiece.
So, final analysis? Hurricane, i would even go so far to say, stands as Grace Jones very best album too date, surprsingly even eclipsing the excellence of Warm Leatherette and Nightclubbing, while standing a good head and shoulders above her other albums of the 1980s: Living My Life (1982), Slave To The Rhythm (1985), the Nile Rodgers-produced Inside Story (1986) and Bulletproof Heart(1989). I'm sure I speak for all Grace Jones fans when i say it's a real pleasure to see Grace Jones return to the music scene, and with such a VENGEANCE! Her spirit, passion and fire literally pour out on Hurricane and is a sheer evidence, and a perfect testament, of her artistic gifts. A stylish comeback!