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Thursday, November 13, 2008


ModMusic: Grace Jones "Hurricane"

"This is my voice/my weapon of choice/This is LIFE." Nearly twenty years have passed since Grace Jones' last album was released -- long enough for the entire music industry to have changed the business model, and long enough for listeners to absorb music in a completely different way. Perhaps this is why Jones' stunning new disc, Hurricane, sounds different from any other release this year...she, and it, are anomalies in the world of downloads and iPods, where the focus on coherent albums has given way to a generation of acts built upon endless strings of singles. Her difference goes beyond mere genre, or retro fascination; hers is a different way of approaching the creative act, the making of music. Bluntly put, Jones is an artist, trying to cut it in a world of pop stars.

But this is her voice, her weapon of choice, as she says in the opening beats of Hurricane, her best effort since 1990's masterwork, Slave To The Rhythm. And whatever Jones may lack in au courant currency, she makes up for with hooks, provocative subjects, insightful lyricism and (the most rare gift) a worldview. The album is awash in funky style, catchy tunes, and rhythms that require, well, slavish devotion. But it doesn't stop there. In free-market critiques like "Corporate Cannibal" or in the album's spiritual center, "William's Blood," Hurricane swirls with powerful observations on the still-new century we (and she) struggle to contextualize.

It's not that Jones' sound has changed all that much; the Caribbean undercurrents of "This Is" and "Well Well Well" echo those of "My Jamaican Guy," for instance, although contemporary instrumentation has added a post-Timbaland sheen. Her iconic presentation (which has always been a selling point to fans) is wonderfully intact, and her take-no-prisoners approach never wavers. But in her two decades out of the spotlight, Jones has clearly been observing and thinking, and that process has birthed a pensive, thoughtful disc. There's a center here, an eye in the Hurricane, that challenges social heterodoxy...and brings into question the essential viability of today's biggest-selling artists. Let's hope her next trip back into the recording studio will happen faster. We need her back, and soon.
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Blogger Cal said...


I'm loving "This Is". It's got a great vibe and it kicks off the album really well.

11/13/08, 11:06 AM  
Blogger thombeau said...

A great review of a brilliant album!

11/15/08, 11:05 PM  
Blogger JimmyD said...

'Williams Blood' is the most listened to track for me, for now.
I LOVE Miss Grace. Can you believe she's 60??!! It's as if she stepped through a rift in time and has been waiting for us to catch up.
Found your blog by randomness and am promptly bookmarking it! Jimmy

11/17/08, 8:14 AM  

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