Tanita Tikaram, of the Twist in My Sobriety fame, returns after seven years of silence with the album Can’t Go Back. Whether or not a comment on the fact that Tikaram’s days of wandering Bolivian villages and singing about “eyes like holograms” are indeed over, Can’t Go Back is something of a mixed bag.
At first, the opening track seems like the strongest one on the album: simple, kooky beat and just enough keyboard/background guitar to be a perfect hook. After All Things To You, though, the tempo mellows out considerably, which isn’t disappointing as much as it simply requires patience. Dust On My Shoes starts off as vaguely soulful country, and ends up completely different, but on the whole is surprisingly unremarkable for a single. Make The Day, on the other hand, is when Tanita finally sits down to some suitably subtle instrumentals and properly immerses the listener in her smoky, gorgeous voice.
A lot of gentle piano and lyrics about love ensue. After a few listens, I decide Science is my favourite track. It has something the rest largely doesn’t, a suggestiveness, a hidden depth, but without being at all pretentious – there’s more self-awareness there than anywhere else on the album. ‘It’s the science’, Tikaram sings wistfully, ‘that kills me’; it’s one of those songs that burrow themselves in your head for days.
Ambience-wise, Can’t Go Back is something you’d put on as you indulge yourself in a candlelit bath after a long day – if you’re the sort of person that does that. Although on some tracks she walks the thin line between charming and generic, Tikaram shows that after eight albums she still has a couple of tricks up her sleeve.