Alison Moyet

Hometime

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After a near-nine-year layoff, Alison Moyet's fifth solo album is a posh, lavish, elegant affair that shows she's lost none of her chops throughout the long layoff. Production by the Insects, best known for their soundtrack work, adds a torchy, dreamy quality to these tunes, all but two of which were co-written by the singer. Between the intricately crafted songs, the ornate production, and Moyet's soulful voice, this is arguably her most fully realized and cohesive work. Strings, keyboards, and multiple guitars layer into a big, lush, sophisticated sound perfect for Moyet's husky voice. While there is nothing that reminds the listener of Yaz, the synths, drum programming, and loops recall the more techno aspects of her old band, while adding an organic, if not quite rootsy, feel. If Dusty Springfield still made records in the millennium, it's likely they would be similar to Hometime. Personal yet expansive with just the right touch of ghostly R&B, this is a remarkably moving collection of European-style ballads. Somewhat reminiscent of Portishead's live work, Moyet sinks into these tracks as if lounging in an overstuffed chair. The elements combine most poignantly on the stirring "If You Don't Come Back to Me." With its hypnotic strings, reverbed guitar, and jazzy bass, it seems like she's interpreting an existing classic instead of writing a new one. Classy, subtle, yet often mesmerizing, this album is never less than affecting. It strives to be -- and often is -- a perfect vehicle for Moyet's talent, reaching heights that have only been hinted at in her previous work.

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