Fionn Regan: Cala (Abbey)
Verdict: Songs for summer
Peter Yorn: Caretakers (Shelley Music)
Verdict: Tuneful guitar pop
Fionn Regan missed a trick when he failed to make the most of the success of his 2006 debut album The End Of History.
Nominated for a Mercury Prize, the acoustic tour de force placed the tousle-haired Irishman firmly in the tradition of music’s great storytellers.
But he refused to conform to type. He alienated fans by experimenting musically and beefing up his simple sound. He then disappeared for five years, clearing the way for Ed Sheeran and George Ezra to cash in on the acoustic boom.
Fionn Regan’s Cala album is ‘perfect for what’s left of the British summer’ and is set to put his promising music career back on track – after he initially disappeared and let Ed Sheeran to cash in on the acoustic music scene
He was even upstaged by another singer-songwriter, Hozier, from his hometown of Bray, near Dublin.
His talent remains intact, however, and his sixth album Cala — named after the Spanish word for cove — is just the record to put his once promising career back on track. Played entirely by Regan, 37, on acoustic guitar, piano and subdued synths, its lazy, hazy moods are perfect for what’s left of the British summer.
The second release since his self-imposed five-year exile, Cala harks back to the crispness of his debut.
That record’s sensitive introspection struck a particular chord with female fans, including Andrea Corr, Ellie Goulding and Lucinda Williams (who compared him to Bob Dylan), and a return to dreamy reflection finds him back to his best.
Like his debut, Cala was written in Bray — and a proximity to Dublin’s coastal outskirts is clear in a suite of love songs and heartbreak ballads that breeze by in a balmy blur of sand dunes, starry nights, August moons and, on the piano-led title track, ‘twenty miles of amber’.
If that sounds just a little too cloying, Regan cleverly avoids any schmaltzy sentimentality.
Class act: Pete Yorn is refreshingly straightforward in this three starred album
The intricate melodies of Collar Of Fur and Head Swim are picked out studiously on acoustic guitar, but delivered with a lightness of touch that echoes the Seventies California songs of Crosby, Stills & Nash and Joni Mitchell.
Cala lacks variety. The only real mood changes arrive on the electronic Glaciers and mid-tempo Riverside Heights, but such consistency is also a strength. With ten songs clocking in at just 35 minutes, this is quality over quantity.
If Regan comes across as a one-man Crosby Stills & Nash, then Pete Yorn is more like a single-handed version of The Strokes.
The New Jersey singer, 45, is best known for his soundtrack work — he scored the movie Me, Myself & Irene — and duetting with Scarlett Johansson on 2009’s Break Up and last year’s Apart. But he also delivers superior indie-pop in his own right, too.
His first solo album in three years, Caretakers is refreshingly straightforward. Made with producer Jackson Phillips, of Californian rock band Day Wave, it mixes the spontaneous guitar jangle of I Wanna Be The One with more angular workouts, such as Opal and Try, that tunefully channel Interpol and New Order.
Both albums are out today. Fionn Regan plays at Earth, London, on October 7 (fionnregan.com).
In any language, she’s a marvel!
LIVE: Anitta (Royal Festival Hall, London)
Verdict: Stardom beckons
The Meltdown Festival, curated this year by Nile Rodgers, is one of the feelgood live hits of the summer, having featured must-see gigs by the guitarist’s own outfit Chic, former Smith Johnny Marr and Brazil’s biggest pop star, Anitta.
The singer, born Larissa De Macedo Machado, is already a sensation in Latin America, with 40 million Instagram followers, and the pizzazz with which she brought the spirit of the Rio street carnival to the South Bank suggests she’s on the way to making it here, too.
Anitta, 26, sang with Madonna on the latter’s Madame X album, although the way she led her male and female dancers through well-drilled routines owed more to Beyonce’s Formation tour. With its video effects, confetti showers, plumes of dry ice and a superb backing band, this was an arena-ready spectacle.
Brazilian Meltdown: Anitta at the Festival Hall
Singing in Portuguese, Spanish and English, Anitta’s blend of Latin grooves and energetic moves proved irresistible to a sell-out crowd.
A backing vocalist or two might have eased the load on her lithe, sassy soprano voice, but she still pulled off the tricky task of singing while engaging in some very Brazilian twerking. Bang, from 2015, was an infectious funk workout and the Madonna number, Faz Gostoso, a thunderous samba tune.
Amid the tumult, there was one reflective interlude, with male singer Caetano Veloso appearing via a pre-recorded video link for a bossa nova ballad. The 77-year-old Veloso helped to found Brazil’s Tropicalia movement and is a cultural hero in his homeland.
With an English language album in the pipeline, Anitta’s surely bound for bigger stages.
MELTDOWN continues tonight with a Eurythmics evening featuring Dave Stewart and Emeli Sande (southbankcentre.co.uk).
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Blinded By The Light (Legacy OST)
Springsteen’s music gains fresh resonance in Gurinder Chadha’s film, with the onus on the coming-of-age anthems he made with the E Street Band between 1973 and 1984. Born To Run and Badlands feature alongside new piano ballad I’ll Stand By You and a live version of The River. It’s peak-period Bruce — with the bonus of a British bhangra classic and hits by Pet Shop Boys and A-ha.
THE REGRETTES: How Do You Love? (Warner)
THE LA power-pop quartet mix punk attitude with doo-wop harmonies on an album that charts a love affair from butterflies to break-up. Frontwoman Lydia Night, 18, opens with a spoken- word poem in the style of The Shangri-Las before channelling Joan Jett and name-checking Madonna on California Friends. Catch them on tour in November. AT
THE TESKEY BROTHERS: Run Home Slow (Decca)
Fresh from a run of UK festival shows, Melbourne band The Teskey Brothers cover the waterfront on a second album that touches on blues and languid Aussie rock, although their default sound is rooted in gritty Sixties soul. Singer Josh Teskey’s raspy voice evokes Otis Redding on Carry You and Joe Cocker on the melodramatic Paint My Heart. Hold Me is all hand-claps and foot-stomps, and So Caught Up a superb retro-soul homage.
ALICE WALLACE: Into The Blue (Rebelle Road)
Californian country star Alice Wallace embraces lavish strings and an electrified sound on a robust debut in the rocking, West Coast tradition of Maria McKee and Linda Ronstadt. She’s clearly in touch with the great outdoors, too, with Santa Ana Winds chronicling California’s devastating wildfires and When She Cries welcoming the end of a six-year drought. And there’s pleasing variety, with Echo Canyon a dusky pedal-steel ballad. AT