Melody, Sharleen Spiteri's first venture into the artistic lebensraum of a solo career after more than 20 years fronting Texas, has 'Radio 2 Album of the Week' stamped all the way through its precision-tooled centre. That may well have you racing towards it with open arms or scurrying away from it in alarm, depending on how much you like Radio 2 and, indeed, Ms Spiteri herself.
The Glaswegian chanteuse says that being free from band commitments meant that she could make 'the album I always dreamed of', an ambition that translates into a concise 11-track proposition sounding for all the world like Nancy Sinatra had begun making records for Tamla Motown.
Spiteri takes the Motown model a little too much to heart, delivering an LP-length offering of less than 37 minutes. 36 minutes and 57 seconds, to be precise. Which leaves enough playing time on a standard CD for her to issue her second solo album on the same disc. Only the most dedicated of fans will think they'll be getting full-price value for an offering as parsimonious as this.
What there is, is what you'd expect. Spiteri is in fine vocal form, with that distinctive burnt caramel carapace pulling at the heartstrings as effectively as ever. A pity that album opener It Was You (co-produced with Bernard Butler) sounds like Duffy's Mercy and I'm Going To Haunt You is a poor plastic take on Nancy Sinatra's These Boots Are Made for Walkin'. But Berry Gordy would find much to approve of in Spiteri's accomplished use of brass and rippling percussion in Don't Keep Me Waiting, soul-laced harmonies in You Let Me Down and the glorious finger-clicking excitement of the Supremes-like Day Tripping.
There's a touch of an end-credits Bond theme about the title track, a forlorn late-night pledge to a lost lover, and launch single All The Times I Cried adds a sprinkling of Burt Bacharach to the mix to prove a likable introduction to Spiteri's new solo career. It still sounds like Texas, though! --Michael Quinn
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