Alison Moyet has one of the most distinguished voices in popular culture. Her deep, soulful timbre has become a unique trademark that is a perfect fit to the jazzy pop sound of her music. The chanteuse recently released her newest record “Hometime,” a marvelous gathering of melodies that will most likely please her steady fans and impress new listeners.
Before she started her solo career, Moyet was the singing half of ’80s synth-pop duo Yaz with keyboardist Vince Clarke. Together they recorded two full-length records that delivered the international smash hits “Only You,” “Situation,” and “Don’t Go,” among others.
Yaz became a huge success in club land as gays embraced their fresh and funked-up electro-sound. Despite their commercial and artistic success, the group split up and the two went separate ways.
Moyet bravely embarked on a solo career that was diverse to say the least. Initially, she continued making pop music on her solo debut “Alf,” but she didn’t hesitate to create more obscure gems. In 1985, the singer released the Billie Holiday classic “That Old Devil Called Love” on single and even experimented with edgy rock on the album “Hoodoo” in 1991.
After an eight-year hiatus, 41-year-old Moyet is back with “Hometime,” which is released on the progressive Sanctuary Records. The label is also home to the new introverted sound of the Pet Shop Boys. Due to an ugly dispute and fierce creative differences with Sony Music, Moyet did not release any new music after “Essex” in 1994.
After years of battles, Sony finally released Moyet from her contract, and she was free to sail her own course. In the meantime, Moyet tried several new artistic directions and even made her acting debut in the Kander and Ebb musical “Chicago,” playing Mama Morton.
On “Hometime,” Moyet revives her eclectic moody sound with lyrics simultaneously canvassing desperation and
optimism. Her sensual vocals are Bowie-esque at times and deliver her songs with a laid-back and stylish sense of storytelling. The U.S. version of “Hometime” counts 11 songs, and unfortunately leaves out two French chansons, which do appear on the U.K. release.
The album was produced by the Insects, who are well-known for their
collaboration with trip-hop godfathers Massive Attack. Their influence is clearly noticeable on songs like “Say It,” “More,” “The Train I Ride” and especially “Ski” with its loungy groove and deep base lines.
Moyet shines on the climatic closing track “You Don’t Have To Go” with pitch-perfect vocals and an impressive mix of orchestral strings and organs accompanying lyrics like “Look at your face, it’s like looking at mine. Feeling your hands, almost like mine. This was our room when we used to know how to share ourselves in silence.”
Other highlights are the upbeat, anticipatory “Mary, Don’t Keep Me Waiting,” the guitar-driven “Should I Feel That It’s Over,” and the sublime “Do You Ever Wonder” with its playful strings and loopy harpsichord introduction.
An eight-year absence is a long time, but “Hometime” has been worth the wait. Moyet has proven that her voice lends itself to a range of different musical styles from dance to jazz and blues to rock. With the help of the Insects’ production wizardry, Moyet comes full circle, combining her vocal talent with songs drenched in a luscious groove that fits her very well. “Hometime” is by far her most-accomplished project to date.