Bryan Ferry: Olympia


RIYL: Roxy Music, Thievery Corporation, The Blue Nile

Bryan Ferry’s post-Roxy Music solo career exists in a coccoon of sorts, with few fingerprints from the outside world sullying their beauty and timelessness. Before anyone mistakes that for overblown hyperbole, let’s look at those words a little more closely. His records are beautiful in the sense that they are impeccably played and produced, and they’re timeless in that Olympia, his latest solo record of (mostly) original material, could have come out the same year he released his last solo album Frantic (2002), or Mamouna (1994), or even Bete Noire (1987). Likewise, Mamouna and Frantic could have come out this year without anyone batting an eye as to when they were recorded.

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So they are beautiful and timeless, yes. But truth be told, Ferry hasn’t written a really compelling song in quite a while – that might explain why he hasn’t made back-to-back albums of original material since 1987 – and Olympia does not buck the trend. There are some nice moments, like the bouncy “Shameless,” the haunting “Reason or Rhyme,” and his convincing cover of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren,” but there isn’t a “Slave to Love,” or even a “Limbo,” to be found, a point only exacerbated by opening track “You Can Dance,” which begins with a sample of Avalon track “True to Life.” Likewise, “Me Oh My” is built on the bones of “My Only Love,” from Roxy’s Flesh & Blood. Neither song is bad, per se, but they’ve been done before, and better. There is also the matter of Ferry’s voice. He sings the entire album in that whispered hush, rarely testing his upper range or even his falsetto.

No one expects Ferry to churn out hard-charging numbers like “Both Ends Burning” anymore, but Olympia is awfully sedate, even for a man known for his lounge lizard cool. It’s more or less interchangeable with his recent work, which is a bit of a letdown considering Ferry was able to get four other Roxy veterans (Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay, Andy Newmark) to appear, but the overall effort is good enough. If you’re content with good enough, that is. (Astralwerks 2010)

Bryan Ferry MySpace
Click to buy Olympia from Amazon

  

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