Moby – Reprise: Album Review

Moby returns with a collection of reimagined songs from his vast and eclectic musical career; complete with a wide array of special guests.

Released: 28th May 2021

Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Format: CD / Vinyl / Digital

For anyone that knows Moby’s music, you will know that his music has always had a relaxing, classical quality. Even the Twin Peaks samples used in his breakout single Go in the late 80’s/early 90’s show a classical leaning. Recorded with the sublime Budapest Art Orchestra and a slew of special guests, Reprise is an excellent collection of songs spanning the wide and eclectic career of an artist who has been there and done it…several times.

Songs chosen for inclusion on Reprise have been picked based on their ability to transpose into the ‘Reprise’ style. Everloving opens the album; a downbeat song from 1999’s all conquering Play. Although it isn’t too dissimilar from the original version tucked away in side B of the original album, it works well as an introduction to the pieces to follow.

Natural Blues is another song from Play, that at the time was very hard to escape. I worked at Virgin Megastore in 1999 and it was played a lot! I loved it…and still have the CD singles! This version of the song is stunning. It features the legendary soul singer Gregory Porter and Amythyst Kiah taking the Vera Hall lines that Moby sampled in the original cut. Both of these wonderful singers add their own stamp to the song, and the composition overall is has an added lift with the way it is put together.

Moby discusses how the Reprise Version of Natural Blues came about.

Porcelain and Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? make up a quartet of songs from Play on Reprise. Both will be very familiar to any fan of music and both have been given added flourishes here. The vocals soar along with the orchestral parts making for a large helping of joy atop, what is at it’s root, deep melancholy.

Play is the album that truly put Moby on the map however there are so many songs in Moby’s vast discography that showcase the talent Richard Melville Hall possesses.

Go uses the original Angelo Badalamenti sample and like Natural Blues, is truly reimagined. Conga beats dazzle over the slinky bassline as the song builds. The solitary piano note that adorned the original still sounds ominous and the shrill strings give a harsh edge in the transformation of this rave anthem. The Angelo Badalamenti sampled section sounds truly epic. Go is a song for the ages. I still remember seeing Moby perform this song at Manchester Apollo in 2000.

Anyone that has read Moby’s memoirs (Porcelain/Then It Fell Apart) will know about his affection for David Bowie. They used to live across the street in New York and hung out a lot. At one point they performed an acoustic version of ‘Heroes’ together. It’s no surprise that this song finds its way onto Reprise. It feels like a tribute to a lost friend, as well as a homage to a song so great it genuinely transcends time. Mindy Jones takes the lead on vocals and transforms the song into a haunting wistful ballad. It is gorgeous. Tear jerking almost.

Classical pianist Víkingur Ólafsson adds his impenetrable skills to one of Moby’s finest works in God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters. This song was originally released on 1995’s Everything Is Wrong and it still sounds boundlessly hypnotic 26 years on. If lush orchestration and moving classical music is what you want, then look no further. Like the cover of ‘Heroes,’ this is moving. Truly.

A song that found itself in the movies was Extreme Ways through its inclusion in the Bourne franchise throughout the noughties. This is one of three cuts from the follow up to Play, 18; the others being We Are All Made Of Stars and The Great Escape. The former starts out as a lounge like piano ballad, before layers are added to the song that build brilliantly towards a choral take on the chorus. It has a Nick Cave quality.

Collaborations with Gregory Porter and Mindy Jones might not seem too out of the ordinary, but having Kris Kristofferson add his gritty, gravelly, earthy tones to The Lonely Night is masterful. Originally included on 2013’s Innocents, it was co-written by Mark Lanegan who appears with Kirstofferson on the Reprise Version. There is an aura to the start of this particular piece that is reminiscent of Rick Rubin’s work with Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond on their latter day American Recordings.

Lift Me Up has restraint from it’s original composition (2005’s Hotel) before exploding in a flurry of jubilance. Almost Home, also from Innocents, once again features Mindy Jones in addition to the brilliant Darlingside and Welshman Novo Amor. Lamentations once again flow, but the music still feels uplifting. Moby possesses a rare skill in putting these emotions into his music. The Last Day rounds out the album, once again with Darlingside along with esteemed songwriter Skylar Grey.

Reprise is a joyous celebration of music from an esteemed musician. It would be interesting to see if Moby decides to take on a ‘Volume 2’ of this style of project. It will be interesting to see songs from Animal Rights, or more rave tunes given the reprise treatment. With that being said, these songs might be best left alone as the punk/rave songs they are. Whichever way, there is definitely scope for more of this type of project; because Reprise is a brilliant success from one of the most talented people on the planet.

Listen to the mesmerising version of God Moving Over The Face OF The Waters (Reprise Version) from Moby, below.

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