Hurricane is the 10th studio album from singer/model/actress Grace Jones and her first record since 1989′s Bulletproof Heart. Emerging from a two-decade hiatus, the 63-year-old icon shows little sign of rust or wear; her husky voice and ear for dance rhythms are as sharp as they were at the height of her post-disco success. If anything, her celebrated edginess has sharpened with time.
The album’s most unexpected aspect is the menacing touch that pervades several of the album’s darker tracks. Already deep enough, Jones’ voice dominates the mix’s low end, allowing her breathiest lyrics the chance to resonate and, at times, intimidate. “This is my voice/My weapon of choice,” she growls in “This Is” over a pounding, tribal drumbeat. Airy synths and unidentifiable electronic beeps fill the high end of the mix, while the bass fills out whatever bottom end Jones’ vocal chords don’t already occupy; no space is wasted within the mix of a single song, which creates either a warm, enveloping feeling or a suffocating, claustrophobic feel depending on the song’s tone and intent.
The production occasionally takes on a hint of trip-hop, particularly in “Corporate Cannibal”, which features a contribution from Tricky. (Other notable contributors include Brian Eno, Sly & Robbie, Wally Badarou, and Bruce Woolley.) It’s not all dark, however; there are several of the trademark dance floor tracks you’d expect from Jones’ early days, the highlight among them being the Wendy & Lisa-assisted “Williams’ Blood”, an uncommonly personal song about the traits she inherited from her mother’s side of the family.
Perhaps as a consolation prize for having to wait three years for a domestic release, the U.S. release of Hurricane contains a second disc featuring a full dub remix of the album. This should appeal to dub fans, but for others this disc is likely to be slid back into the case after one listen. These extended versions come off a bit thin in comparison to the original mix and lose the interesting, claustrophobic feeling present in many of the songs.
All in all, Hurricane is a worthy collection of music for Jones at this point of her career; we should hope it’s the start of a new era for the icon rather than just a one-off release.
Essential Tracks: “This Is”, “Corporate Cannibal”, and “Williams’ Blood”