The Roxy Sessions

Angela McCluskey

Bernadette Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Scotland's Angela McCluskey has done much in her lengthy career. Although she's done great work in outfits like Wild Colonials, Telepopmusik, and The Garden Of Eden, she has also provided vocals for plenty of commercials, movies, and TV shows. The Roxy Sessions showcases McCluskey's ability to deftly move between genres that span decades, as the tracks here were penned by McCluskey and her producer Kiran Shahani in a mere three weeks at the Roxy Hotel. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Eight Stories High” begins the listen with rich instrumentation that immediately highlights McCluskey's inimitable sultry vocals, which are reminiscent of Billie Holiday. Next up comes the upbeat, electric “Not Crying Anymore,” a track boasting horns and a dance friendly beat. “Let's Get Lost” brings us back to the '20s and sounds like it would play at a speakeasy. Then, McCluskey skips a few decades and brings “Turn Out The Lights,” which could soundtrack your favorite James Bond flick. “You And Me” yields a playful, upbeat atmosphere, tailor-made for sunny days, while “Paris To Hollywood” finishes out the first half of the album with a similar playfulness and throwback approach to soulful pop sounds.

The second half of the album leads off strong with the key and groove friendly “Say Hello” before the lush and darker “What About Us.” “Insufficient Feeling” is the quietest moment on this half with acoustic guitars, but it offers dance friendly moments with xylophones complementing the song well. “Hit And Run” is undoubtedly one of the best offerings here, featuring '60s surf influenced guitars.

Although the music is well played, eclectic, and memorable, it's McCluskey's voice that steals the show. Possessing qualities similar to Stevie Nicks, Marianne Faithful, and the aforementioned Billie Holiday, her tone and inflection works well with the vintage sounds as well as the more colorful rock moments. McCluskey has fans as famous as Michael Stipe and Cyndi Lauper – and probably you, too, if you listen (though you're probably less famous).

Rating: B+

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