English crooner Bryan Ferry explores atmospheric Brit-funk on his 14th solo album, Avonmore.
The singer mines the sound that he and his former band, Roxy Music, developed through the 1970s and ‘80s, fusing electronic art rock with sophisticated funk.
Ferry draws on the futuristic melodicism of that band and his own urbane cool to create a carry over from those heady days as he and producer, Rhett Davies, assemble a clean and densely layered group of pulsing songs.
If the measure of a musician can be the company he keeps, then Ferry stands in good stead. He’s joined in his groovy quest by Nile Rodgers, Johnny Marr, Flea, Marcus Miller, Steve Jones, Mark Knopfler, Ronnie Spector and more. They must be drawn to Ferry’s sophisticated cool and creative grooves.
The title song is evidence that Ferry was ahead of the curve way back when, as this is a healthy update of his sound.
As well as slick and spacey sophisto-funk, Ferry has a fine ear for ballads and a generous respect for cover songs. One of the many he covered in past years was a nicely wrenching version of John Lennon’s Jealous Guy. Here he works out Stephen Sondheim’s Send In the Clowns and Johnny and Mary by Robert Palmer. Both songs lack the propulsion of the rest of Avonmore but balance it out with dreamier textures.
Ferry’s Avonmore is an urbane mix of mature lite funk and melodic electronica.
– Dean Gordon-Smith is a music critic based in Vernon, B.C. His column, Street Sounds, appears in The Morning Star every Friday.