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Robbie Williams professes himself to be “gutted” that BBC Radio 1 won’t play his records because he’s too old. But the ever bumptious Williams has evidently suffered a short night of the soul, for here he is with an album so cosy and cardigan-clad that it seems designed expressly to cause violent allergic reactions at youth-addicted Radio 1.

A sequel to 2001’s easy-listening covers album Swing When You’re Winning, it finds the singer back in big-band mode, all twinkling eyes and burly crooning. This time there are fewer covers and more original songs, the latter reuniting Williams with his most fruitful collaborator, songwriter Guy Chambers.

The orchestral arrangements are lavish and a host of guests join Robbie as he props up the mantelpiece, including a smutty turn with Rufus Wainwright on the title track. Amid the smirking comes a fleeting moment of genuine emotion with “Snowblind”, a gracefully orchestrated, Chambers-penned, tenderly sung ballad about romantic salvation.

Robbie Williams

Swings Both Ways

(Island)

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