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Tanita Tikaram – Can’t Go Back (Review)

Tanita Tikaram, Can't Go Back

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

TANITA Tikaram said she was influenced by Americana when it came to writing the songs for her latest album, Can’t Go Back, and the likes of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Dusty Springfield and Marie Knight.

The resulting LP offers a collection of songs that are as assured as we’ve come to expect from a singer who first shot to prominence way back in 1988 with her award-winning Ancient Heart.

Instrumentally, the emphasis is on soul with a little country thrown in, which provides a perfect fit for Tikaram’s sultry vocal style.

And having recently been impressed with empowering lead single Dust On My Shoes and its brand of gospel backed pop, it’s equally satisfying to report that the rest of the album mostly lives up to the expectations set by that song.

Opening track All Things To You is a particularly lively start, a shrewd mix of Motown meets rhythm and blues that struts its stuff in foot-stomping fashion. It’s arguably the standout track of the session, although the teasing Rock & Roll runs it close with its slick blend of rock and soul and playful lyrics (“I get a thrill without you… all that I know about you is rock & roll”).

Science finds Tikaram positively purring over lyrics such as “if we could talk all night” while breezy guitar licks augment the ‘pop’ feel of another crowd-pleasing moment, while she’s at her sultriest and most playful again on One Kiss, a hopelessly retro duet with Grant Lee Phillips that has a classic Sunday afternoon feel. The playful piano chords and breezy strum-along acoustics capture the excitement and anticipation of the couple’s kiss.

Conversely, Tikaram invests plenty of soul and intimacy on piano led ballads such as Make The Day and Keep It Real.

But two more of the album’s very best moments come in the form of the upbeat Heavy Pressure, which has a great chorus, and album closer If The World Should Want For Love, which slow-builds moodily into a beautifully layered offering, complete with subtle use of string arrangements and a quietly inspiring sense of optimism.

Tikaram recorded the album with some special guests, including producer Paul Bryan, Ray LaMontagne’s drummer Jay Bellerose, keyboardist Keefus Ciancia (of T Bone Burnett and Elton John fame) and long-term friend and guitarist Mark Cresswell.

You can tell she had some fun doing it, too, and that’s another thing in the album’s favour that translates well to the listener. It’s a welcome return from her.

Download picks: All Things To You, Dust On My Shoes, Heavy Pressure, Rock & Roll, One Kiss

Track listing:

  1. All Things To You
  2. Dust On My Shoes
  3. Make The Day
  4. Rock & Roll
  5. Science
  6. Keep It Real
  7. Can’t Go Back
  8. Heavy Pressure
  9. One Kiss
  10. If The World Should Want For Love