Hot Tracks



Kylie Minogue


2.5 stars

Madonna dabbled in it on her 2000 album Music. And, most recently, Lady Gaga did it with 2016's Joanne.

Is it almost inevitable for every pop diva to eventually wade into country music territory?

Because, now, dance-pop diva Kylie Minogue has jumped into the fray as well with her 14th studio album.

Thankfully, she never ventures too far into Nashville or country twang territory.

Instead, she has surefire radio singles such as Dancing and Stop Me From Falling, which are country-pop hybrids with a sprinkle of disco glitter and electronic production. They will have you slapping your thighs as if you were at a country fair in the deep south.

The rest of the 17-track album is middling at best, with explorations into heartbreak glossed over with the veneer of more jaunty country music, such as on the track Lifetime To Repair. With lyrics such as "Heaven knows I tried my best, now I'm swimming in a sea of loneliness", it does not quite scream emotional depth.

The Australian singer fares much better on pure emotional ballads, such as the piano-driven Music's Too Sad Without You, a duet with English singer-songwriter Jack Savoretti.

The track is just a good pop ballad, no country music embellishments required.

Now that Minogue has gotten this album out of her system, perhaps it is time to bring back disco Kylie.

Anjali Raguraman



Simon Callaghan, Piano

BBC Scottish Symphony/ Martyn Brabbins

Hyperion 68173

4.5 stars

The music of almost-forgotten English pianist-composer Roger Sacheverell Coke (1912 to 1972) is destined for an unexpected but long-awaited revival.

Young British pianist Simon Callaghan presents world premiere recordings of three of his piano concertos, which deserve more than an occasional airing.

Coke was a contemporary of his fellow countryman Benjamin Britten, who shunned 20th-century modernisms and atonalism, but looked back to the late Romantic musings of Rachmaninov.

Thus, there is little surprise that Coke's Third Piano Concerto (1938) and Fourth Piano Concerto (1940) bear certain resemblances to the music of Rachmaninov, a Russian emigre whom he counted as a friend. Both pieces play for about half an hour each.

No. 3 sounds like British film score showpieces influenced by Rachmaninov, such as Hubert Bath's Cornish Rhapsody and Richard Addinsell's Warsaw Rhapsody. No. 4 is a far darker and morose work with an opening redolent of that in Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto.

Coke's Fifth Piano Concerto (1947/50) exists only as a slow movement, which is for most part wistful and melancholic.

Callaghan's very convincing performances can scarcely be bettered and one looks forward to the eventual discovery of its outer movements as well as the earlier first and second concertos which are presumed to be lost.

Chang Tou Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2018, with the headline 'Hot Tracks'. Print Edition | Subscribe