METRO PLUS

Luminous album

THEY'RE KNOWN as the band that gave us Kiss Me, and for introducing to the world Leigh Nash — the beautiful lead vocalist who purrs like an angel on Anything and Breathe Your Name. It's the kind of pure melodic pouting we miss in pop these days. At long last, after a half a decade of recording hiatus, Sixpence None the Richer return with their fourth album, Divine Discontent. Their music is acoustically rich contemporary pop loaded with poetic lyrics that can be compared with 10,000 Maniacs, Crowded House, and The Innocence Mission. Matt Slocum, their chief songwriter and guitarist, comes up with an interesting arrangement of Pablo Neruda's poem, Puede Escribir Los Versos Mas Tristes, that adds a depth and purity to their sound. Their music is soaked in strings and piano.

Sixpence debuted in 1993 and followed up with The Fatherless and The Widow, This Beautiful Mess, and Tickets for a Prayer Wheel, with extensive touring. By 1998, the group was included in the immensely popular Lilith Fair Tour, an exclusive women singer's concert, headlined by Sarah McLachlan.

Divine Discontent features 13 polished and perfected tracks culled from several writing sessions since their last album. "The album," says Slocum, "is a thematic expression of our justifiable dissatisfaction with the things in this life." The album kicks off with now familiar radiant lead single, Breathe Your Name, an acoustic track that underscores Nash's sexy, sweet, innocent voice. The beat on Tonight is infectious and Slocum describes this as "an ode to indecision". All the songs that follow have lush texturing — from I've Been Waiting to A Million Parachutes.

The band has made no secret of their gospel roots: the lyrics of most of their songs carry religious metaphors. Songs like Melody of You and Tension is a Passing Note, speak of faith. A line like, tension is to be loved when it is like a passing note to a beautiful chord, hints at the struggles of a religious life.

On Waiting On the Sun, you find lines such as I'm waiting for answers, I'm waiting to figure it out / I trip on my chances, I slip thorough my doubt. Dizzy, Paralyzed and Still Burning change the tempo to infectious pop-rock. Don't Dream it's Over is a Crowded House cover and Sixpence pull if off sensitively.

A luminous album.

Sixpence None The Richer: Divine Discontent

Tips-Warner, Rs. 495

A CHARGED, mesmerising live performance from the "only woman in rock music recognised as a guitar virtuoso". Her strong voice and skilled songwriting add to her unusual mix of blues and rock. The concert features Raitt classics like Something to Talk About and Love Sneakin' Up on You. The best thing about Road Tested is the line-up of guest artists: Ruth Brown and Charles Brown, Bruce Hornsby, Kim Wilson and Jackson Browne. Hornsby joins Raitt on the tunes Thing Called Love and I Can't Make You Love Me, while Brown duets on his own My Opening Farewell. Raitt sings Never Make Your Move Too Soon with the unforgettable Ruth and Charles Brown.

At the age of nine, Bonnie Raitt was already impressive on the guitar. She began her career in her teens on the blues and folk circuit. When she was 22, she debuted with a self-titled album in 1971, a strange but rousing mix of country blues, R&B and covers of singer-songwriters like Randy Newman and Jackson Browne. From then on, guest artists appearing on her albums and tours became a regular feature. For Takin' My Time included Taj Mahal, Jim Keltner, and Little Feat's Lowell George.

It was during the late '80s and '90s that Raitt found her own sound when she fused blues with rock. The change of style brought her new fans. For several years she did not make any albums or tour allegedly because of alcohol problems. Typically, her recording company dumped her. Nick of Time in 1989 changed all that. This Grammy winner also hit the charts. The albums that followed — Luck of the Draw and Longing in Their Hearts — only sealed her comeback. Some of the songs on these albums went multi-platinum. Her tours now included Richard Thompson, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, and Willie Nelson.

Road Tested, her first live album, is sandwiched between Fundamental and Silver Lining. The album is a terrific live performance — the essence of what Raitt is about. Her sexy drawl sears through all the tracks.

Bonnie Raitt: Road Tested

Virgin import, Set of two CDs, Rs. 700

PRADEEP SEBASTIAN

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