By rights Lulu should be in the Sandie Shaw nursing home for retired ’60s pop divas. Clearly, however, this particular 55-year-old is not yet ready to succumb to the temptations of the rubber chicken cabaret circuit or the middle of the road covers album.
The opening track of this album, which follows hot on the heels of a greatest hits set, is a clear statement of intent. Keep Talkin’… I’m Listening is penned by Bryan Adams (remember him) and boasts a chunky slide guitar riff break that sounds eerily like the late George Harrison, but that is merely the icing on the cake. This is, quite simply, a beautifully crafted, biting pop song that wouldn’t have been out of place on Mel C ‘s excellent (and critically overlooked) Northern Star album.
This reinvention of Lulu as a Sheryl Crow or Anastasia for the Saga generation is merely the latest in a series of multiple image makeovers, from teenage Scottish pop firebrand and perky Eurovision co-winner to the sultry vamp of Man Who Sold The World and back again, via Take That‘s Relight My Fire. On this new album, however, she’s digging deep into the rock and roll and rhythm and blues that she says are have always been her musical touchstones.
Recent dates have seen her in the company of musicians young enough to be her grandchildren, which is a testimony not only to Lulu’s stamina but also her staying power. More than ever she sounds like a female Rod Stewart, equally comfortable on the soulful Could I Be More Blue as on out and out rockers such as Yeah, How You Love Me.
All right, so All The Love In The World sounds like a Celine Dion offcut (yes, it’s that dull) and Supernatural is just plain cheesy but these are stylistic blips, more than compensated for by the leery Roll The Dice and Latino inflections of Time To Fall.
One of the many revelations to emerge from this album is that Lulu is not only a gutsy performer and canny career strategist; she’s also no slouch in the songwriting stakes, having written half of the songs here. The biggest surprise however is that this is a ballsy, gutsy, enjoyable album that leaves a whole generation of Pop Stars and Pop Idols back at the starting post. A delight, and the comeback of the year.