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Echoes of Our Times


Artist: Shakin' Stevens
Label: Right Track / Universal
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 16 September 2016

Platinum-selling Shakin’ Stevens releases his 12th studio album Echoes of Our Times. The entertainer and performer has 33 hit singles and 4 UK no. 1s to his name. His new album grew from Shaky’s realisation that, like most of us, he knew so very little about the background of his family - the stories of his ancestors’ loves and lives lost, and their struggles to survive. Research revealed tales of poverty and strife in the Cornish copper mines, of bravery and loss in war, of philanthropic preachers and stoic Salvationists, of children suffering and of family secrets and feuds. These uncovered stories became the inspiration for many of the songs that make up this collection...

Shakin' Stevens releases his new album Echoes of Our Times - surprisingly, for those who have not been following his career, his 12th studio album.

Several artists from the '80s have released new albums of late - Rick Astley being the most notable. There's a small part of me that is a little sad to see how famous faces from my youth have aged - mainly because it reminds me of my own mortality. I was slightly too old to ever be a fan of Stevens's output. In addition I was never a huge Elvis fan, and he was always compared to The King, for obvious reasons.

Echoes of Our Times sees the artist reinvent himself a little, taking a step away from his Elvis-esque days. The album's title track 'Echoes of Our Time' is in the style of a '70s American Country song - complete with Western-style instruments - but brought up to date for a more modern audience. In places, though, the instruments sound a little patchy and twee - almost as though it were recorded in a hurry and on a budget.

It's strange, given that Stevens dug into his family roots in Cornwall for the inspiration for a lot of the songs, that the album takes on more of an American sound. Mind you, I've no idea what an authentic Cornish sound would be like.

Fans of Shaky will love this, as it's probably his most personal album to date. The LP is a little short, containing 10 songs (33 min, 53 sec).'The Fire in Her Blood' sounds a little The Beatles's 'Love Me Do', while 'Last Man Alive' brought to mind Genesis's 'That's All'. In fact, if I had to pick one song from this album to sell it, it would have to be 'Last Man Alive'. It's bold, confident and it grabs your attention. It also shows off Stevens's vocal range much better than any of the other tracks here.

Is you're not a fan of Stevens, then I doubt there's much here for you. I've been listening to it on and off for a couple of weeks and I'm no closer to knowing it now than I was the first time I played it. While no doubt it's designed as a love letter to his legions of fans, I found it a bit of a bland affair.


Nick Smithson

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