Live At Asylum Chapel
Joan Armatrading came into the consciousness of music lovers in 1972, with her debut album Whatever’s For Us. She was known as a singer-songwriter and her reputation grew throughout the past 50 years. Not only did she firmly established herself on the charts in Europe and the UK, but also developed as an incredible writer and musician. In fact, Armatrading has produced and played every instrument on her albums since 2003. She has her loyal fan base in North America but she is a chart topper throughout Europe and her adopted home in England (she was born in St. Kitts and moved to the U.K. when she was seven). This concert, recorded at the historic and iconic Asylum Chapel in London highlights everything brilliant about this artist. Her songs, her musicianship, and her wonderful voice. This album is being released alongside her first book, a selection of her lyrics titled The Weakness In Me: Selected Lyrics. All of these releases are to assist Armatrading in celebrating her 50th anniversary in music.
Because this is a live album, Armatrading cannot play all the instruments, but she does bring together a group of very talented musicians, namely: Jennifer Maidman (Bass), Paul Stewart (Drums), Alex Lee Richards (Keyboards), Jamie Anderson (Saxophone). This band works as a tight unit and brings new life to the music. It is clearly Armatrading’s show, but she allows her band to demonstrate their own individual talents as well.
The album kicks off with the blistering “Into The Blues”. If there is any question about Armatrading’s ability to play tasteful guitar solos, they are laid to rest, as her playing in this song is inspiring. It is a brilliant opening for the album and for the concert as well. This is just the beginning and she kicks it off with a bang. For further evidence of her guitar performance skill, listen to “Heading Back To New York City”. It is stunning. Armatrading is on fire throughout the album. She is having fun and she is showing what she can do. She is equally brilliant with the slower numbers, such as “The Weakness In Me”, a beautiful song which allows her to show off her remarkable vocal talents.
Although this is an overview of her career, many songs from her 2021 album, Consequences, are featured throughout the show. Consequences was a top ten album in the U.K. but is still somewhat underrated. It is full of brilliant songs, and Armatrading breathes new life into the material in concert, especially the title track, “Glorious Madness” and “To Anyone Who Will Listen”. “To Anyone Who Will Listen” is a moving, emotional song, and is used to bring the album to a close. It is a brilliant way to bring the album and show to an end. It is absolutely glorious.
Of course the hits are here, such as “Drop The Pilot” (which on this album is just so full of energy), “Me Myself I”, “Love And Affection” and “Willow”, which all come off well in this performance. Armatrading sounds like she is enjoying revisiting the older material and all of the songs fit together to tell her story throughout the years.
This is a great live album. Live At Asylum Chapel is a great example of what can be done with live albums and how they can be a wonderful history of an artist. She is smart to include new and old songs, hits as well as deep album cuts. It is a very slight glimpse into an artist who has released 20 studio albums and four live albums. This is a great overview of her career and might push the listener to dig into her catalogue and discover this truly talented individual.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: JOAN ARMATRADING – LIVE AT ASYLUM CHAPEL