Don't be misled by the venue switch from the Fitz, the cricket sounds greeting her latest album, or the tidbit that Joan Armatrading once again played everything on it except the (fantastic) drums: This Charming Life is the West Indian U.K. singer's return to big-rock '80s "Me Myself I" form, from the step-into-the-sunshine harmonies of the title track to the stadium-disco thump of "Two Tears," a kiss-off to an abuser. Armatrading's overwhelming voice, so tremulously emotional on verses, so brightly plain on choruses, remains its own sensual pop thing—she embodies the spirit of the Equals as much as that of Joni Mitchell, which might be why her soulfulness is hard to place. She's just as personal in the detailed bluesy-ness of her ax, and in the sonic touches—Siamese guitars, day-o backup vocals—that keep an anthem as earnest as "People Who Win" from feeling pat. Live, she brings a band, so expect favorites from nearly 40 years of folk/jazz/reggae/blues/rock/pop/new wave, and bone up on 2003's Love and Affection: Classics (1975-1983) if it's all new to you.
Thu., July 29, 7:30 p.m., 2010
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