ALBUM REVIEW: Nashville meets nightclub suits our Kylie
NO one can say Kylie Minogue has not fully committed to making a country-tinged pop album. And no one can say Golden is just your regular Kylie Minogue album.
The first single Dancing may have been the latest victim of streaming strangling the pop chart for artists from the CD era. But it was the ideal introduction to Kylie's Golden year - pop music taking a Nashville detour and dipped in glitter and sawdust. With country in vogue Dancing got Minogue back on pop radio, despite her last few albums featuring pop singles (Get Outta My Way, Into the Blue) far better than many recent radio hits by Katy Perry, Rita Ora or Selena Gomez but that's none of our business.
Anyone expecting Golden to have reserve Wows or Love at First Sights tucked away behind the songs with guitars is in for a shock.
After 14 albums and 31 years it's the perfect time for Minogue to change things up a little. And fear not, it's not that different - her take on country is more disco Dolly Parton than Alison Krauss or Johnny Cash.
Album highlight A Lifetime to Repair is the best example of cowboy style Kylie - all banjo pluckin', mother-duckin' heartbreak guiding y'all into a banging fiddle'n'beats hoedown showdown chorus. Lyrically it's peak Minogue - personal but still with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Title track Golden was spawned from one too many questions about her age - haunting spaghetti western guitar vibes leading you into modern country steered by Nashville-based Australian Lindsay Rimes (Kelsea Ballerini) and Taylor Swift co-writer Liz Rose.
Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud collaborator Amy Wadge works on Sincerely Yours - a big ballad that is scarcely country beyond a bit of acoustic guitar but fits perfectly on this song-based, storytelling-driven album.
There's still links to Kylie of old. Biffco, usually her go-to guys for club pop, serve up the mid-tempo gem One Last Kiss that's dripping in melodies and hooks plus the mellow twang of on-the-road ode Shelby 68.
Stop Me From Falling threw in flashbacks to Malcolm McLaren's Double Dutch with lush bootscooting pop - everyone involved in this album (her first for new label BMG) has relished the challenging of re(cowboy)booting Kylie without losing what people love about her. Pop music is a broad genre and now Kylie's doing a reverse Taylor Swift.
Radio On takes you back to the deconstructed campfire version of early hit Hand On Your Heart - an ultra-intimate acoustic lament about the healing power of music. It's beautiful.
Brit singer Jack Savoretti guests on stunning duet Music's Too Sad Without You - which automatically takes you back to her Nick Cave collaboration Where the Wild Roses Grow. It's Bond theme meets Bacharach.
There's still dancefloor moments - like Live a Little - but think line-dancing - and L.O.V.E comes via A-list hitmakers, who follow the album's brief in style - hands-in-the-air classic pop with a waft of melancholy.
Raining Glitter, which relieved some fans worried after Golden tasters Dancing and Stop Me From Falling when released last week, is probably the closest to classic Kylie - and not just that title - with Eg White serving up a honky tonk pop banger.
The other revelation on this album; these songs suit Minogue's voice. She sounds effortless and relaxed. She also sounds like she's having genuine fun trying something new on for size. And in pop music, that's Golden.
*Golden is out now
TRY THESE IF YOU LIKE: Dolly Parton Here You Come Again, Amy Wadge Walking Disaster