If you ask most people who Grace Jones is, they might answer she’s a weird american actress who played bad girl Mayday in a James Bond movie, co-stared with Arnold Schwarzenegger on Conan The Barbarian or, if you’re from the UK, the wacky character who famously slapped Russel Harty on national tv. And while that is all true, it is also a fact that Grace Jones is a legendary singer who, in the late 70’s and early 80’s was responsible for a series of breakthrough new wave records mixing disco, rock, punk and reggae sonorities. Famous for her extreme visuals and performances (Andy Warhol famously said the world was not yet ready for what she was doing, and he was probably right), the consummate party girl would stay out of the spotlight after the release of 1989’s “Bullet Proof Heart” in a self-imposed musical exile that lasted almost 20 years. In 2008 it was announced the release of a new album, a rumour that had been on and off for years (in the mid 90’s she was said to be working on a techno album called “Black Marilyn” that never saw the light of the day). Yet, this time around the new project did come to life, gathering global critical praise and projecting her as the headline act of a series of music festivals. “Hurricane” is the record and it will now see a US released in September, this time around with a bonus disc of instrumentals and a revamped album cover (from Jean Paul Goude’s V Magazine session).
The album offers an incredible collection of songs that show Jones at her best. While her trademark idea of mixing different musical styles is still very much present (ranging from the dancehall beats in the opening number “This Is Life”, the rock infused reggae of “Well Well Well” or the trip-hop vibe in “Devil In My Life”), there’s an eminent menace over the sound that gives this record it’s own striking identity. It’s dark, sometimes terrifying, but incredibly compelling at the same time. All tracks were co-written by Jones herself and this is probably what makes it sound like such a personal affair. There’s hints of soul baring in the storytelling “Williams’ Blood” and “I’m Crying (Mother’s Tears)”, rebellion in the amazing “Love You To Life” and industrial claustrophobia in the chilling “Corporate Cannibal”. Everything here is beautifully produced, full of textures and cinematic ambiences that work amazingly well under Jones strong vocals. While you can argue that this project had some of the best names in the industry behind it (Brian Eno, Tricky, Wendy & Lisa, Ivor Guest and Jones greatest asset, jamaican production duo Sly & Robbie) it is the singer’s voice and soul that make this such a strong musical statement, calling all attentions on her and overshadowing whatever is going on in the production of the songs. That is probably why “Hurricane” ends up being such an appropriate album title: Grace Jones, as a performer, is a total force of nature that will rip anything that stands on it’s path. (9/10)