Grace Jones

Hurricane

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After 19 years, Grace Jones finally released a new studio album, and it's a weird one, nostalgic and timeless in equal measure. Her collaborators (including Brian Eno, Tricky, Wendy & Lisa, Sly & Robbie, Tony Allen, and others) set up instrumental backdrops that explicitly recall not only her own early-'80s albums, but also those albums' influence on the later work of Massive Attack, Tricky, et al. At the same time, Jones' old lyrical persona -- the androgynous cyber-demon who uses scorn as an erotic weapon -- has been largely abandoned; only on "Corporate Cannibal" does that version of her reappear, atop a track that sounds inspired by Massive Attack's "Inertia Creeps." Instead, we get a nostalgic, autobiographical Grace Jones, which is interesting and pretty much totally unexpected. The songs "William's Blood" and "I'm Crying (Mother's Tears)" find the now 60-year-old Jones looking back on her childhood in Jamaica, recalling her mother singing in church and comforting her as a nightmare-stricken little girl. Her voice changes on these songs; her accent grows thicker, abandoning the female-Terminator delivery of classic tracks like "Nightclubbing" and "Pull Up to the Bumper" in favor of a voice that's like a more gravelly Sister Carol. Of course, age has put a few crinkles into her throaty delivery, which helps when she ramps up the aggression on songs like "This Is" and the title track (a collaboration with Tricky); she's as scary as ever, when she wants to be. A calculated look back to her glory days and even earlier, Hurricane is possibly Grace Jones' most focused artistic statement and a worthy sequel to her classic early-'80s albums.

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