Consequences, Joan Armatrading's new album, is one of her most intimate and direct albums yet and one that wears its conscience and its heart on its sleeve. Her 22nd studio album to date, it ably illustrates the fact that Joan Armatrading never likes to repeat herself. It is a very different follow up to 2018's Top 30 hit album Not Too Far Away.
Of course the change of musical pace will come as no surprise to Joan's many legions of world-wide fans since she has always been a pioneer in what she does - ever since the release of her first album in 1972 when her then recording company, by their own admission, had little idea of how to present her, being so outside the norm. It should also be remembered that Joan Armatrading was the very first female singer/songwriter from the UK to have international success with the songs she wrote and performed.
Whether she's playing a blinding electric guitar solo that would put many of the recognized "guitar heroes" in the shade or focusing on specific genres like jazz or blues, Joan has always gone where the muse takes her with no predictability attached. Repetition isn't in her lexicon, even when composing the music for The Tempest and as demonstrated on the recently screened documentary of her career.
With her heartfelt direct and melodic trademark vocal style and lyrics that tell it exactly how it is and a strong rhythmic flow throughout, Consequences is an album of some surprises for sure, but couched in a passionate intensity that benefits from listening to it straight through from start to finish. A complete aural experience and an uncompromising tour de force that engages and gets better with every listen. And while the subject matter, love in its many guises, is an innately intimate topic, this is not an album about Joan herself but rather, as with all her work, one written from observation and where she has created songs that people can make their own, applying the lyrics to whatever their own particular circumstances might be.
As has become her habit, Armatrading recorded Consequences at her home studio, multi-tracking all the vocal and instrumental parts herself, and the production and arrangements lean to a clean and streamlined electronic sound, using the elements of dance music without the insistent pulse, and the contrast between the emotional warmth of the lyrics and the clean surfaces of the music is surprisingly effective. At the age of 70, in a recording career that's lasted nearly 50 years so far, Joan Armatrading sounds engaged, passionate, and fearless on Consequences; she hasn't lost her step as a songwriter and has embraced self-production and home recording with aplomb. This would be an impressive first salvo from a new artist, and coming from a seasoned veteran, it's a truly welcome sign that her creative well isn't about to run dry.
The latest evidence of how Armatrading continues to successfully marry her inherent knack for heartfelt songwriting with an acute acumen for arranging can be found all throughout Consequences, her 20th studio album.
- Vinyl LP
- Manufactured in Poland
- Natural Rhythm
- Already There
- To Be Loved
- Better Life
- Glorious Madness
- Sunrise (Instrumental)
- Think About Me
- To Anyone Who Will Listen