Even when she was the singer for the '80s synth-pop duo Yaz, there has always been a certain pan-European exoticness about Alison Moyet: a rather Brechtian magnificence that suggests the tart champagne sensuality of Francoise Hardy blended with the iced-schnapps sophistication of Ute Lemper and shot through with bolts of Dusty Springfield's snap-crackle pop. Never, though, has Moyet's dusky eclecticism been used to greater advantage than on the 11 Anne Dudley-produced tracks that fill this intoxicating journey through twilight, darkness and dawn's faint light.
A lesser singer could easily have become mired in the murky grays of Dudley's grandly stark arrangements and end up sounding like Absolutely Fabulous' Patsy Stone attempting bleary-eyed karaoke after too much champers. But Moyet, with her uncompromising musicality and a diverse history that embraces punk, blues and hard-driving dance beats, is expertly versed in the art of enriching whatever environment she's placed in, here using Dudley's skillfully subdued palettes to echo that rush of fear and excitement that comes with the first, distant rumble of an approaching storm.
Moyet's take on "Windmills of Your Mind" is perfectly hypnotic, and her double dip into the Costello song pool results in gorgeously mismatched bookends comprised of a coolly meditative "Almost Blue" and a scorching "God Give Me Strength. "Bye Bye Blackbird" is as heartbreaking as a broken wing (she explains in the liner notes that she grew up, thanks to the mournful version her father sang on road trips, thinking it was a sad song), and her deferential rendition of Jacques Brel's "La Chanson des Vieux Amants" will have you yearning for some cozy Montmartre boite.