Tag Archives: Female Singer/Songwriter

Album review – Kristyna Myles: Pinch Me Quick!

17 Aug

The Paris Match: Myles gives Weller’s classic a cinematic gloss and a touch of Bacharach

Pinch Me Quick! What adult pop should sound like in 2014

Pinch Me Quick! What adult pop should sound like in 2014

Former Radio 5 Live Busker of the Year Kristyna Myles has pulled out all the stops with her debut album, Pinch Me Quick! And with a generous 14 tracks of articulate and soulful pop, it’s a polished piece of work, overseen by Grammy award winning producer Ken Nelson.

Lush strings and horns weave their way through the arrangements, providing a rich setting for Myles’s fluid vocals. Soul influences dominate and are reflected in the ease with which she extemporises the melody, mercifully swerving the kind of melismatic excesses that send X Factor judges into clichéd ecstasy, and focusing on lyrical clarity.

She has co-written many of the tracks with a tasty set of collaborators, including Judie Tzuke and David Goodes (“You’ve Changed” and the bluesy “Big Love” are two of the best songs on the album, edgy and urgent), and Ben Williams (“Uninvited”, “Setback” and the country-tinged “Stay With Me” are subtle, shaded ballads about defiance and the solace of intimacy).

Elsewhere, ”Make it Right” and “Betrayal” are two solo numbers which change the tempo of the album, weaving a thoughtful and impassioned personal thread into the mix. And a couple of songs written with Tamra Keenan –“Just Three Little Worlds” and “I’m Not Going Back” – are earworm anthems equal to anything that we’ve heard from Adele or Emili Sandé so far.

The only non-Myles song is Paul Weller’s “The Paris Match”, a cover of the Style Council classic which has already earned Weller’s praise. Eloquent and fatalistic, it’s a beautiful, cinematic treatment with a touch of Bacharach in the arrangement.

Pinch Me Quick! seems a cheeky title for an album that is actually a multi-faceted exploration of life experiences and emotions – what proper, grown-up pop should sound like in 2014.

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CD Review – Rosie Doonan: Pot of Gold

12 Feb

“Fall for Me”: an urgent demand is the leitmotif of the opening track

Pot of Gold: folk tales full of complex musical influences

Somewhere on the scale between the husky purity of a young Joni Mitchell and Jacqui McShee’s ethereal clarity comes the voice of Yorkshirewoman Rosie Doonan, insightful and humane, restlessly exploring the vagaries of human relationships through lyrics that are as articulate as they are personal.

Doonan’s new album, Pot of Gold, is like a series of encounters with characters and experiences that always leave their mark – more often the bruise of an emotional clout than the ghost of a lingering kiss, but always provocative and empathetic. From the deceptively upbeat, guitar-driven urgency of “Fall For Me” to the ominous, on-the-edge strumming of “Darker Side of You”, Doonan presents a warts-and-all yet compassionate vision of the relentless cycle of meetings, fallings and break-ups that constitute life.

The single “Lay Your Love” epitomises Doonan’s realistic attitude and intelligence as a lyricist. It might be a break-up song, but the back story isn’t all bad and the relationship is meaningful enough to deserve one last send-off. Lines are drawn in the sand, experiences noted and assimilated, hindsight acknowledged, inevitabilities accepted and understood (“Into the Fire”).

These are folk tales, full of complex musical influences that hint at Doonan’s personal heritage (her father was a uilean piper with Hedgehog Pie) – “Wind That Shakes the Barley”, with its yearning strings, slow marching drums and harmonica, is the most traditional song on the album – while embracing a host of other styles and techniques. “Victor”, for example, comes on like a sentimental Edwardian parlour song with modern nuances.

“Winter Song”, reminiscent of a top quality Judie Tzuke number, is a touching, delicate paean to the comfort of turning back to a love that, despite everything, is still all that matters on a cold, snowy night. “Lady Blue” might be a tribute to Joni Mitchell herself, while the album’s title track has a winning jaunty gait and energy that is equal to anything that’s come so far from the pen of Amy McDonald.

Female singer/songwriters are hot currency at the moment and with this album, her second as a solo artist, Doonan has well and truly staked her claim to a place among the front-runners.

Rosie Doonan is on tour in March at the following venues: 11th – with the Snap Dragons at Wem Town Hall (Shropshire); 12th – with the Snap Dragons at The Brindley, Runcorn; 17th – with the Snap Dragons at Cumberland Arms, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; 19th – Shaw Theatre, Leeds; 20th – The Boardwalk, Sheffield; 23rd – with the Snap Dragons at The Biddulph Arms, Stoke-on-Trent; 25th – Trowbridge Arc Theatre (Shropshire); 26th – with the Snap Dragons at The Beehive, Swindon.