SHARON CORR: The Fool & The Scorpion (EastWest)
Verdict: Stinging solo record
NATALIE IMBRUGLIA: Firebird (BMG)
Verdict: Soars periodically
As violinist and backing vocalist, Sharon Corr rarely took centre stage in the band she formed in 1990 with sisters Andrea and Caroline and brother Jim.
It was lead singer Andrea, all gothic glamour, who was the focal point as The Corrs sold 45 million albums and filled arenas with their Irish folk and pop.
But Sharon, who also plays piano, was the band’s instrumental powerhouse so it’s no surprise that she has gone on to enjoy the most productive solo career.
New album The Fool & The Scorpion is her third individual effort in 11 years — her solo journey was put on hold in 2015 for a Corrs reunion — and it’s easily her most accomplished.
As violinist and backing vocalist, Sharon Corr (pictured) rarely took centre stage in the band she formed in 1990 with sisters Andrea and Caroline and brother Jim
A lot of current pop, from Ed Sheeran to Lorde, has an acoustic hue, and it would have been easy for Corr, 51, to fall back on the folk legacy of The Corrs.
To her credit, she does nothing of the sort, turning to veteran producer Larry Klein to oversee an album of swirling rock and jazz-tinged piano ballads.
The most striking thing is how low-key her violin sounds, even though she still plays her trademark instrument throughout. When she released her first solo record, Dream Of You, in 2010, the violin loomed large. There was even a fiddle-and-guitar duet with Jeff Beck. With the ten songs here penned largely on piano, there’s a distinct change of gear.
There is also a rawness that’s a world away from the carefree lilt of Corrs hits such as Breathless and Runaway. Sharon’s 14-year marriage to Belfast lawyer Gavin Bonnar broke down in 2019, and it sounds as if her wounds have yet to fully heal.
Like most divorce LPs, the focus is on moving on . . . but there’s a fair amount of anger, too.
New album The Fool & The Scorpion is her third individual effort in 11 years — her solo journey was put on hold in 2015 for a Corrs reunion — and it’s easily her most accomplished
The title track deals with betrayal (‘You’ll get your just deserts, served cold on the grave of my tenderness,’ Sharon sings). The track was written on a bumpy flight from Madrid, where she now lives, to Switzerland, an uncomfortable experience which clearly added to the sense of turmoil.
She isn’t feeling much better on the surging rocker Freefall (‘I’m so messed up’), or the lovely piano ballad Lend Me Your Shoulder (where she’s ‘falling on hard ice again’). But, as we reach the waltz-time pop of A Thousand Lives, she is finally more philosophical about life’s hard-won lessons: ‘I was young, too young to know / The fairy tale was just a show.’ The decision to record with Klein, famous for his work with Joni Mitchell, is inspired.
The album was made with a team of crack session musicians at The Village, the LA studio where the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac cut fabled LPs, and the influence of the classic 1970s Laurel Canyon singer-songwriters is palpable without becoming overbearing.
Sharon also sings it like she means it. On Lend Me Your Shoulder she adopts a tearful whisper that recalls Norah Jones.
On Only You, co-written with her sister Andrea, the tone is sweet and understated. There are