Bryan Ferry: Olympia

Bryan Ferry

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Bryan Ferry’s unique vocals have been described before as “pillow talk-cool,” which is pretty much how the ex-Roxy Music leader sounds to me most of the time. But on his latest release, Olympia, Ferry gives us a bit more of just his neo-romantic pipes. With some stellar musicians behind him, (ex-Roxy members Andy Mackay, Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno appear together for the first time since 1973) and other musicians such as Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, Scissor Sisters, David Gilmour and Nile Rodgers, this new eight-song album makes some really neat headway while nodding back to some vintage Ferry.

“Heartache by Numbers,” with its haunting piano and epic chorus pitted against poignant verses, features the Scissor Sisters, while “Shameless” (with another well-placed simple piano part) sees Groove Armada collaborating with Ferry. On “Alphaville” (co-written by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart) Ferry layers six major guitar players, including Gilmour and Manzanera, and three drummers, including one from his old Roxy days, the brilliant and underrated Andy Newmark. Gilmour and Rodgers alternate on the wild “Me Oh My.”  “BF Bass” features some great popping bass and “Song to the Siren” sees Ferry and Greenwood covering Tim Buckley with as much expertise as ever.

Though Ferry does traipse into middle-of-the-road territory sometimes, as he does on “Tender Is the Night” and “Reason or Rhyme,” the Gilmour-like singing over spacey leads saves the latter tune.

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