Almost 30 years on from her debut solo album, fans could be forgiven for thinking they know what to expect from a new Alison Moyet record. In recent years, the former Yazoo singer’s releases have largely been stately, ballad-filled affairs.
The first taster of her new album, The Minutes, blasted those preconceptions out of the water. Earlier this year the first single, Changeling, was dropped online as a free download, and turned out to be a frenetic three-minute mix of shuddering dub-step beats and dirty guitar riffs. At 52, Moyet suddenly sounded more enlivened, more essential, than ever.
The risky new sound has already paid off handsomely, delivering the powerhouse vocalist her first UK top 5 album since 1987.
“I was in a situation before this album I didn’t have a record deal and I had loads of deals offered to me, but all to make cover albums. There is this assumption that once you hit 50 all you want to hear is middle-of-the-road jazz-pop, but it’s just not true,” Moyet told the Star Observer.
“I’m so grateful I’ve been able to keep moving forward. I see other artists of my era who have to keep living in the past and singing the old hits constantly, because they’ve got so much to upkeep, financially. They live the life, you see, whereas I never lived that pop star life: I’ve always been a cheap
date,” she chuckled.
The Minutes’ fresh sound is thanks in part to the involvement of producer and songwriter Guy Sigsworth, known for sprinkling his electro fairy dust over many a female singer’s work. Alison described theirs as a true creative partnership – a far cry from her early years as a solo artist with top-selling pop records like Alf (1984) and Raindancing (1987).
“When I made those early records, it wasn’t a very happy time in my life. I was finding that with record companies and the music business, they’d tend to defer to the male entity – the assumption was always that the woman was not a true creative partner. I went from being in a very creatively free place with Vince [Clarke of Yazoo] to a place where I could still do my own thing, but on other people’s terms.”
It contributed to a feeling that Moyet has voiced often throughout her career, of standing apart from the rest of the music business. This outsider status has helped earn her a fiercely loyal gay following.
“My gay following really feels like home to me. I know that young lesbians used to see themselves mirrored in me – I presented quite androgynously and a lot of people assumed I was gay myself. I’m glad I could show them that you can stand alone, be strong and not have to fit in with the crowd,” she said.
That earlier androgynous image has softened over the years, particularly recently as Moyet shed a large amount of weight. Not that you’ll see any ‘Alison Moyet: My fab new bikini body’-style magazine spreads any time soon.
“There was one paper recently that, within the same breath, was ridiculing my former fatness and my new thinness. You just think, for fuck’s sake – what do you want me to be?”
A singing head in a jar, perhaps?
“Exactly. It makes me so frustrated – I’ve been going for 30 years and suddenly all people want to talk about is the size of my arse!”
info: The Minutes (Cooking Vinyl) out now.