Identity theft blues: the ballad of Sonny Boy Williamson
Shuffle: new songs by Randy Newman, Jessie Ware and King Henry (not Henry Shefflin)
Jessie Ware: channelling the great Beth Gibbons on ‘Midnight’
Randy Newman: Sonny Boy ****
On the standout track from Randy Newman’s 12th studio album, Dark Matter, (his first in nine years) the veteran songwriter recounts the surprisingly true-life story of Sonny Boy Williamson. The Tennessee bluesman died in 1948 and had his musical identity posthumously stolen by a more famous Chicago bluesman of the same name, who toured with The Animals and The Yardbirds in the 1960s. The final indignity comes when the original Sonny Boy arrives at the Pearly Gates and finds he is the only bluesman in heaven. At 34, he had died too young. “Didn’t have the time to do nothing bad,” the agnostic Newman laments.
Small Circle: Spinning ***
Flower Girl Records
According to frontwoman Marissa D’elia, the new single from Philadelphia-based indie band Small Circle is about “not being met with the same emotional effort you’re putting into a friendship/relationship, yet still providing it against your better judgment”. Contacted for comment, the person she’s furiously subtweeting there is believed to have responded, “Sure, whatever.”
Jessie Ware: Midnight ****
“Can you meet me in the midnight?” Jessie Ware channels the great Beth Gibbons at times on the lead single from her as-yet untitled third album.
King Henry feat Rhye: Moment ***
Black Butter Records
Alas, King Henry here is not the renowned 10-time All-Ireland-winning Kilkenny hurler-turned-pundit whose portrait was recently unveiled at the National Gallery of Ireland. He is the LA-based producer and former Diplo protege behind Major Lazer’s Cold Water and much of Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Moment, his latest solo venture, is an ethereal lament for lost love.