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World Music CD Reviews Europe

JOAN ARMATRADING

By JAMES RODGERS
Published May 2, 2006

Lover’s Speak
Denon

After almost eight years since What’s Inside, it’s good to hear Joan Armatrading’s voice.  Listening to her is like wearing a favorite sweater: warm, comfortable and familiar. On Lover’s Speak, her 18th release in a 30-year career, there are no big surprises. Its 14 intelligently written pop songs feature her strong musicianship, ear for lyrics and distinctive milk-and-honey voice. As the title hints, Armatrading is turning her focus toward the many facets of love: from frustration to exhilaration, complacency to awkwardness, all the glory and the pain. She opens with the title track as the person on the outside, then moves through love’s dark corridors and well-lit rooms, ending with the short but happy “Blessed.”  Armatrading fills every song with insight, humor and, most of all, hope; her upbeat style and voice unchanged over decades.