Bryan Ferry’s voice has become a fragile whispery thing….Now on the edge of cracking, whenever it rises to take a high note one can feel the danger of it not reaching , one can feel the strain….This perfectly suited the hazy quiet almost illusionary music of Ferry’s 1994 release MAMOUNA which is haunted record with Ferry as the chief ghost.
The effect of MAMOUNA was like that of some purgatory scene with Ferry ascendant to hitherto unscaled peaks of jaded decadence and the tired majesty, the world weary romanticism this produced in the vocals and the music was the result….It helped that his ex Roxy Music compadres played on many of the songs-Phil Manzanera, Andy MacKay, and the best of all Brian Eno.
Ferry’s new album OLYMPIA is similar to MAMOUNA….After a number of years of cover version records or records that were partly cover versions, Ferry has put out an album that is all original tracks except for one….His voice is just as whispery and fragile as MAMOUNA but the music is a tad more sprightly and less murky like a cross between MAMOUNA and the last Roxy album AVALON perhaps.
In fact I would say this is one of his best solo albums….Nothing can touch the first five Roxy Music album which are oft imitated classics….However, I do like OLYMPIA more than much of his 80’s work which had the tendency to be a bit too slick….Again, Manzanera, Mackay, and Eno are present and there were stories that was originally meant to be a long lost follow-up to AVALON released under the Roxy name.
Ferry sings with a renewed energy, much more energetic than anything he’s done in a long time….The songs themselves are the best batch he’s come up with in decades….As the first song samples TRUE TO LFIE from AVALON, one gets a sense that Ferry has reached a point in his life where he can match his past to where he wants to go musically in the future.