Jeff Beck – Emotion & Commotion: Review
On April 13, one of rock’s most influential guitarists, Jeff Beck, is to release a new album called Emotion & Commotion. As he stated in an interview, he is taking his music in a new, riskier direction with this album. I have never listened to much Jeff Beck, but I have always respected him as a guitarist from what I have heard. However, the risk he refers to with this album is a major bust.
The Music (rating: C)
- Corpus Christi Carol
- Never Alone
- Somewhere Over the Rainbow
- I Put a Spell on You (ft. Joss Stone)
- Lilac Wine (ft. Imelda May)
- Nessun Dorma
- There’s No Other Me (ft. Joss Stone)
- Elegy for Dunkirk (ft. Olivia Safe)
Emotion & Commotion is very down tempo, attempting to reach the deepest sentiment of the human heart. It does so using strings and choirs for major portions of the albums. Ironically, the guitar is possibly the most insignificant instrument on the album. It has a very classical-symphonic feel to it, but yet manages to be quite simple. This is likely another attempt to touch the listener’s soul. However, with all the effort put into trying to establish “emotion and commotion,” the music feels too forced and dispassionate, giving an effect opposite to the intention.
As fore-mentioned, the album is slow-paced throughout. Though this is not generally a negative aspect, it does not work for this album. Instead of making the record feel powerful and cathartic, it made it an extremely long and tormenting 40 minutes. It is as though Beck is in our faces screaming, “feel something!” The slower tempo feels too forced and too repetitive to be absorbed properly.
And though the strings and symphonic instruments have the potential to elevate the music to a whole new level, they are very poorly used and in a repetitive manner. They are only used to create powerful chords and full sounds, and often in the same note-crescendo (like a fade-in). Just like the slow pacing, it fails to be an emotional presence and becomes a novelty instead.
The one aspect that may have saved this album is the guitar. But as previously stated, it is not prominent in the music. There are even sections where every instrument would hold a constant rhythm line and the anticipation for a special guitar melody or solo would never be realized. Instead, the previous seconds become a bridge to nowhere. And even if the guitar does not fulfill the expectations, the other instruments do not step up. They all have a strong reputation (I especially like drummer Vinnie Colaiuta), but none of them show it in this album. Emotion & Commotion is an instrumental disappointment.
My opinion of Jeff Beck has certainly been compromised with this album. Still, I have not given up on him. I certainly will never listen to this album a second time, even though on the off-chance it may grow on me. It is far too simple for my liking. There is not anything significant to appreciate in this album; not the guitar, the strings, or the musicianship. For an album named Emotion & Commotion, it ironically has neither.