album reviews

Alison Moyet
The Turn
W14 Music (2008)
In Your Room
Mute (2008)

Take away the synths from the early '80s British synth-pop duo Yazoo, and you're left with the sultry voice of Alison Moyet. (The synth-playing half of the group, known in the United States as Yaz, was Vince Clarke, formerly of Depeche Mode.)

Aside from her instantly recognizable rich alto, Moyet's latest solo album, "The Turn," doesn't sound much like the new wave dance music that Yaz was known for. Instead, the orchestra-backed songs are more like dramatic show tunes -- not surprising, since she penned three of the album's tracks for the play "Smaller." The Spanish-tinged "Home" drips with her character's jaded weariness, while the delicate "World Without End" captures grief with a loving tenderness. The drama that pervades the rest of "The Turn," especially the slow-paced ballad "The Man in the Wings" matches the emotional outpouring of those numbers.

Yaz's reunion tour is marked with the release of the four-disc box set "In Your Room," which includes the group's two studio albums (1982's "Upstairs at Eric's" and 1983's "You and Me Both"), a compilation of B-sides and remixes and a DVD. Although the synth-heavy sound might feel a bit dated on some songs, the group's hits are still as memorable as ever, from the catchy riff of "Situation" to the soulful "Only You."

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 18 July 2008
.: Items mentioned above on The Turn (Alison Moyet, 2008); In Your Room (Yazoo, 2008).