CD Review: Tanita Tikaram - Can't Go Back

Singer-songwriter continues to push musical boundaries on her seventh release
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For more than two decades, Tanita Tikaram has been blending folk and pop music with her unique voice to create something special. On her seventh album, Can’t Go Back, she mixes in influences of Americana to go along with Motown and Chess soul. The blend gives the album its unique style.

The album opens with “All Things To You,” which marries an irresistible bass and piano groove with a hint of 1950s rock. Tikaram’s deep, distinctive voice really drives the track, which would not be out of place stylistically on Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand.

Tanita Tikaram - Can't Go BackOn the acoustic Ballad, “Dust On My Shoes,” Tikaram recalls the Rolling Stones' late 1960s heyday without sounding derivative. Think “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with modern production touches. “Rock And Roll” mixes those same modern touches with a swampy guitar tone. The track builds in intensity throughout, adding to its dynamic.

The title track is a song about not living in the past and hoping that people will change. It is a strong ballad, with a heartfelt vocal from Tikaram. Grant-Lee Phillips guests on vocals on the duet, “Keep It Real.” The song is a slice of Americana from the pre-Rock and Roll era and he and Tikaram’s voices work well together. Further showing the album’s diversity, “Heavy Pressure” has a dance-oriented feel, with heavy synths and bass throughout. A versatile artist, Tikaram easily shifts between musical styles throughout.

The CD includes a second disc featuring acoustic versions of some of Tikaram’s hits, including “Twist In My Sobriety.” While they are certainly stripped down versions, they are not acoustic in the sense that it is her and an acoustic guitar or piano only. Still, they offer an interesting take on her songs.

Tikaram has used her unique voice and style to carve a successful career for herself. On Can’t Go Back, she continues to expand her musical palette to great effect.