Graceful

 

I recently watched the extraordinary Grace Jones documentary Bloodlight and Bami, and have now fallen for her music.

Growing up in the 80s, I was always aware of Grace Jones as a cultural force. I remember the video for Slave To The Rhythm. I watched her play a henchman in the Bond movie A View To a Kill. I saw the chat show where she hit the host live on air. Last year, I read her autobiography, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs. Her influence is everywhere, as you would expect from such a striking avant-garde performer.

But I hadn’t really paid any attention to her music. Until now.

Her most recent album, 2008’s Hurricane is on constant repeat in my house. I can’t believe I missed it upon release. Its only taken me ten years to catch up.

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PitchforkHurricane is classic Jones. “Well Well Well”, “Sunset Sunrise”, and the creeping “Love You to Life” are all reggae-rock hybrids that would fit any year in the past 30, and the pummeling slo-mo electro-dub of title track a statement of purpose if ever there was one. “Devil in My Life” ends the disc on a restrained industrial note, its lyrics apparently drawn from an evening spent people watching at a party. Grace Jones, people watching, ceding the spotlight and staring from the sidelines? Now that’s a shock. That Grace Jones would finally break radio silence with a disc this exciting is somewhat less so.

BBCThe album is beautifully produced – with textures that just make you want to savour and unwrap each track, accompanied by the occasional oddity such as the mouse squeaks that make you question the sincerity of I’m Crying and the rattle creaks on Well Well Well… But then, with contributions from Brian Eno, Sly and Robbie and Tricky, that’s not surprising. Acoustically, the album is peppered with reference to previous works – Corporate Cannibal is its own slave to the rhythm.

Unfamiliar with Grace Jones’ music? Here’s a handy playlist….

…and here’s Grace in all her glory, performing live in 2017.

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