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Hermione Hoby

Suzanne Vega: Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles - review

A dissonance between sound and subject matter isn't a new Vega trait - if you ignored the lyrics to Luka, her huge 1987 hit, you'd assume it was a song about crayons rather than child abuse - but on this, her first record in seven years, the discord is a

Sophie Ellis-Bextor: Wanderlust - review

(EBGB's) Ellis-Bextor, 17 years a pop star and now a 34-year-old mother of three, sounds like a nine-year-old girl on this, her very fey fifth album. Producer Ed Harcourt has met her mannered delivery and plummy English vowels with string-soaked arrangem

Sharon Jones interview: 'My passion comes out in my music'

When Sharon Jones, the 57-year-old soul singer, walks into the studio to join the Dap-Kings, every one of her musicians knows it and shows it. Their boss lady has presence.

September Girls: Cursing the Sea - review

Their fuzzy guitars, layered female harmonies and reverb-doused, distortion-dredged everything does not make this Dublin five piece the most arrestingly novel concept.

Actors Anonymous by James Franco - review

Hermione Hoby on a poor performance by 'The Actor' Self-consciousness in a writer can get in the way of letting a story do its thing. The actor-writer-director-producer-musician-artist and eternal PhD candidate James Franco is a phenomenon springing fr

Neil Young: Live at the Cellar Door - review

(Reprise) Taken from shows in 1970, it's hard to know what's more delightful about these recordings - hearing the surety of Young's songwriting and that distinctive uncertainty of his voice happen in a tiny room (the applause sounds as if it's generated

Rebecca Ferguson: Freedom - review

(Sony) One of the rare pleasures afforded by The X Factor was watching Rebecca Ferguson, the seventh series' runner-up, go from sweet scouser mum when she spoke to stirring soul queen when she sang. On this second album, as on her lovely debut, Hea

Gary Barlow: Since I Saw You Last - review

(Polydor) There's something almost awe-inspiring and wonderful in how unassailably uncool Gary Barlow - the Just for Men handsome, blandly genial X Factor judge and second most successful Take That alumnus - remains. Sonic reference points for this, hi

Jake Bugg: Shangri La - review

(Virgin EMI) Bugg's second album opens with the kind of high-speed wordiness and skiffley jangle that he does best - scrappy and audibly northern throwback rock that splits the difference between Arctic Monkeys and Oasis. But this is not always a wholl

James Arthur: James Arthur - review

(Syco) On this debut contractual obligation to Simon Cowell, X Factor winner James Arthur sounds exactly like an X Factor winner. That is, unsubtle, unrelentingly emoting and singing every phrase with what sounds like that constipated, really-reall