It must be some kind of pop rule that if you hang around long enough in the music industry, a movement/scene will eventually come along for which it will become immediately obvious you have been waiting most of your life.
When it happens, as long as you’ve managed to maintain a perfectly serviceable career throughout the past quarter century, you will be extremely well-placed to grab hold of the opportunity with both hands, safe from any accusations that you are simply jumping on the bandwagon.
So it is with Alison Moyet and burlesque. A return to the faded romance of Victoriana music hall theatricality, complete with feather boas and larger ladies spilling out of laced bodices, is surely her reward for entertaining us so well with her deeply seductive vocals for so many years. On Home and Fire in particular she sounds… well, right at home and creatively on fire.
All of this is subtly enhanced by the lovely packaging, in which the CD snuggles temptingly inside a reproduction theatre programme (although note, plebs, this may be only for the journos. You may get a jewel case and lump it). With references to her years with “Mr Clarke’s Yazoo Company”, “Mr Tricky” and “Messrs The Walker Brothers“, it paints a beautiful picture in which brass and pianos waft across mahogany floorboards from the orchestral pit.
But packaging would count for nothing without some substance behind it, and The Turn certainly delivers this, from the promise of the opening track and preceding single One More Time, which soarsthrough the octaves on the wings of a rather beautiful guitar riff, to the sombre last act Smaller (coincidentally or not the title of the recent play in which she appeared with Dawn French).
Several of the tracks deserve special mention, from the beautiful piano ballad of The Man In The Wings, through which you can almost smell the dry ice and stage smoke, to the Brechtian World Without End.
Some of this is inevitably down to the contribution of Peter Gleinster, her collaborator on songs for the play Smaller and who would clearly rather write a soundtrack for a Broadway extravaganza of feather boas and fishnets than a pretend cruise ship entertainer. On this performance, he should definitely be allowed to.
There are nods to the past – as well as having one of the best titles this year, It’s Not The Thing Henry could be a grown-up Yazoo – and plenty more of the development last evidenced on her 2004 covers album Voice.
Taking in influences she’s picked up from appearing on stage in Chicago, it draws a perfect convergent evolution to a moment in time that was destined for this album and vice versa. Quite possibly the red wine album of the year so far.