In making his 12th studio album a covers record, you’d think Morrissey might be looking to avoid controversy.

California Son

It would, after all, be a relief not to separate art from artist. But Christ, he makes it hard. Can we really believe, given his history, he’s not trolling us when he sings, on Bob Dylan’s Only A Pawn In Their Game, “You’re better than them/ You been born with white skin”? It’s probably best if we don’t go there, but it’s a shame no one thought to tell him, too.

Anyway, elsewhere Mozza reinterprets his favourite songs from the 1960s and 70s, with Carly Simon’s When You Close Your Eyes suiting him surprisingly well, and Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste on board for a casual saunter around Jobriath’s Morning Starship. He’s joined, too – albeit briefly – by LP (aka Laura Pergolizzi) for a loyal interpretation of Roy Orbison’s It’s Over.

It’s odd, though, to hear Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong serenaded on the soulful easy listening of Laura Nyro’s Wedding Bell Blues, while Broken Social Scene’s Ariel Engle (who, upon learning of Morrissey’s politics, voiced regret at their collaboration) can’t quite rescue the jazzy shapes of Joni Mitchell’s Don’t Interrupt The Sorrow.

Gary Puckett & The Union Gap’s Lady Willpower, moreover, is a guilty pleasure too far. Still, better than that…

5/10

Wyndham Wallace

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