Since releasing his autobiography in 2016, Bruce Springsteen has been on a creative hot streak to rival any period in his 40-plus years at the top.

There has been a one-man Broadway show, a first cinematic directing credit and even a lockdown-inspired turn as a radio DJ.

Until now he has been holding back two pocket aces, career-long companions the E Street Band and his trademark brand of impassioned rock'n'roll.

Letter To You welcomes both back in emphatic fashion, with the Boss' old compadres back on deck to deliver a series of stadium-sized performances captured live in the studio in just five days.

Ghosts turns Springsteen's lyrical nostalgia into a white-hot riot, while Rainmaker taps into the political and anthemic stylings of his post 9/11 classic The Rising.

Most surprising, and most rewarding, are three "lost" epics from his early 70s playbook, dusted off, polished up and finally rescued from the bootleg pile.

The best of them, the poetic If I Was The Priest, might have been the song that made him a star had he set it free first time around.

Review by Rory Dollard


Following a five year wait, Major Lazer are back with their much-anticipated album Music Is The Weapon.

It's a return to reggae and dancehall inspired sounds for the electronic trio.

Dancefloor fillers Sun Comes Up - featuring Busy Signal, the vocalist from 2013 hit Watch Out For This (Bumaye) - and Tiny are loud, colourful and vibrant, the hallmark of Major Lazer's previous successes.

With returning collaborators as well as new ones, group members Diplo, Walshy Fire and Ape Drums have invited a star-studded list of featuring artists to mark their return.

Nicki Minaj and Mr Eazi bring the energy to bouncy, dancehall-tinged Oh My Gawd, while heartful vocalist Khalid slows the tempo in Trigger.

But it's the influences of reggaeton in the album's latter half, including tracks with Latin artists Paloma Mami and J Balvin, which bring the fire to Music Is The Weapon.

Whether it was worth waiting half a decade for is debatable.

But for fans of Major Lazer's international genre-shifting sound, the album acts as a weapon in battling against what is likely to be a bleak winter.

Review by Emma Bowden


The latest offering from Gorillaz, the world's most famous animated four-piece, is erratic, disconnected and at times quite chaotic, which is exactly why it's excellent.

Song Machine: Season One - Strange Timez combines a myriad of genres, sounds and styles with a formidable selection of guest artists, producing an album that has something for everyone.

We get pulsing, reverb-heavy beats on Pac-Man (ft. ScHoolboy Q), punchy, frantic rock drumming on Momentary Bliss (ft. Slowthai and Slaves) and even a melancholic power ballad in The Pink Phantom (ft. Sir Elton John and 6LACK).

The distinctive croon of mastermind Damon Albarn comes through sporadically but only to complement the scores of big-hitting guest artists - from Robert Smith to Skepta - who each bring a different vibe and personality to their track.

Unlike previous albums Demon Days and Plastic Beach there is no single theme or sound to Song Machine, which might not be to everyone's taste but is sure to appeal to those who like a bit of everything.

Review by Michael Bedigan


Russell Watson has been on quite a journey since his debut album, The Voice, was released in May 2001.

The English tenor rose from singing standards in backstreet clubs around the North West to performing to thousands at Wembley Arena.

Now 53, he has overcome two brain tumours through extensive rehabilitation.

With 20, which marks the two decades since his debut, Watson celebrates his remarkable journey with a mix of crowdpleasers and personal cuts.

Well-worn pieces like Nessun Dorma, a slow-motion version of Volare and half-covers of themes from Gladiator and Enterprise will keep the listener tuned in.

For long-standing fans, each song will have significance.

Nessun Dorma, the aria from Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot, helped launch Watson's career.

Recorded during lockdown with Watson's producer in his native New Zealand, a socially distanced orchestra in Christchurch, and Watson himself in Wilmslow, proceedings were organised over Skype.

The result is a polished affair that serves more as a victory lap than an exercise in innovation.

Review by Alex Green


Four months after releasing Dion's excellent Blues With Friends album on his KTBA label, Joe Bonamassa further celebrates his influences on Royal Tea.

This time the inspiration is the 1960s British blues albums he stumbled upon as a 12-year-old in his father's vinyl collection, by Jeff Beck, John Mayall And The Bluesbreakers, and Eric Clapton and Cream.

He flew to London in January just before lockdown to record at Abbey Road Studios, and the album cover proclaims "Made in England" and features a teapot and two teacups.

Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden co-writes several songs, with Cream lyricist Pete Brown, Jools Holland and Dave Stewart also contributing to the 10 original tracks.

The epic, seven-and-a-half minute album opener When The Door Opens builds from brooding beginnings to a Led Zeppelin-style stormer with pulverising drums and screaming guitar solo, before an acoustic coda.

The title track adds swirling organ and female backing vocals to surely the first blues song inspired by a Piers Morgan segment on Good Morning Britain on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stepping back as senior royals.

Single Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye is a break-up ballad, Bonamassa warning "when I leave, I leave for good, no coming back, like you said I would".

Lookout Man starts with growling bass and ominous harmonica, launching into a radio-friendly chorus, and High Class Girl is a classic R&B strut, while A Conversation With Alice returns across the pond, referencing the Southern US sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band.

Mellow closer Savannah features Bonamassa on mandolin and Reese Wynans on organ and Wurlitzer, and showcases once more the album's fresh take on the source material.

Review by Matthew George