HURRICANE - Grace Jones

Like a mirage, Ms Jones materialises from the desert once again. Nearly two decades have passed since her last album and she's back. And, wonderfully, she's in fine fettle. Superlatives should be heaped upon Hurricane, her new album.

What's so wonderful is that she's unafraid to expose the vulnerable and sensitive side of her nature beneath that man-eating machine mantle. There are some very touching moments here which strike a very personal chord with the listener. She isn't just the bad girl freak who punches up nancy boy TV interviewers from Blackburn. She is, is she not, one of the icons of the 1980s.

'I'll consume my consumers, with no sense of humour', she whispers in your ear and you sodding well believe her.
Our Grace has seemingly been waiting to get all the right people in the right places to put this together and the line up is bold and appropriate; Brian Eno, Tricky, Sly and Robbie and Ivor Guest. And the trademark epic production merges with the tight reggae rhythms from Sly and Robbie to whisk you back to Nightclubbing and Living My Life. The opening salvo, This Is, is a chunky, electro-hip hop narrative that is precisely about the nature of her return and how she'll never compromise. Williams Blood essentially sheds light on her childhood and her relationship with her mother and family and is a series of lyrical passages booted left, right and centre by an absolutely killer chorus that belts out with raging strings, percussion and fantastic gospel style backing vocals. It's a stunning song that's capped off with a recording of her mum singing Amazing Grace.

Corporate Cannibal is a threatening electronic mantra with buzzing guitars, whiplash drums and Grace's fruity narration. Lots of fuzzy, pulsing electronics and synth washes that chug along, La Jones in full vent about media manipulation and exploitation. Classic Grace. Bags of attitude and atmosphere. 'I'll consume my consumers, with no sense of humour' she whispers in your ear and you sodding well believe her. I'm Crying (Mother's Tears) is so lovely. A beautiful paean to her mum, growing up under her protection, experiencing her pain and using that as a way to become as strong as the woman that brought her up. It's backed by a formidable piece of production, sawing guitars, jogging percussion and aching strings. It's simply divine and you must hear it because it does illustrate a powerful but sensitive soul that adds a whole new dimension to the icon that is La Jones. Well Well Well is the gorgeous return of Sly and Robbie and will instantly take you back to those classic Grace albums. Punchy reggae, cascading guitars and synth with a glittering, twinkling production. Again, Grace is doing some soul searching and the song describes her attempt to make sense of her life.
This is definitely a woman taking stock and issuing a statement to anyone who might be interested.
An older song, Hurricane, is all hot and heavy reggae, trancey pulses and a superb string section given a twist by Tricky. It's Grace on the warpath again, 'ripping up trees' to redress the power balance in her relationships with men. Love You To Life has her purring, a la Eartha Kitt, pondering the infinite, and then responded to with a sensuous chorus with lilting backing vocals. Superb production again with that swaying reggae rhythm swirling with electronic pulses, superb backing vocals and deep string passages as the narrative takes us into a discussion about mortality and sacrifice. Deeply infectious and seductive, it's another stand out track. Sunset Sunrise is a tango-like song with shimmering strings, popping electronics and lovely percussion and bass lines. And it sounds like she's got a choir in there somewhere too. 'Nothing lasts forever, we must come together' she intones as the mortality and cycle of life themes continue. This is definitely a woman taking stock and issuing a statement to anyone who might be interested. The finale is an evocative dissection of how she feels she's been pigeon-holed by the media and how it's effect has become the Hyde to her Jekyll. Devil In My Life is scratchy electronics, tinkling pianos and swirling strings as she whispers 'Am I forever cast in your mold?' of her bad girl image. Squelchy synths lead into the closing crescendo of soaring strings, alternating vocal tracks and juddering beats. An epic conclusion to what must be one of the best comeback albums in years. A triumph and highly recommended.

HURRICANE - Grace Jones (Wall Of Sound CD WOS050CD - Released 3rd November 2008)

Hurricane website

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