Nell Bryden – Shake the Tree
Shake the Tree
157 Records NY/Warners
Imagine a 21st Century Dusty Springfield without the lush string and orchestral arrangements.
Album opener, Mercy On Me instantly caught my attention as the National Steel and Nell’s husky tones simply oozed out of the speakers as she appears to compare an illicit love affair to a ‘smoking gun’ and darn sexy it is too.
Recent single; the anthemic Buildings and Treetops has been picking up national radio play and is the most commercial track on the album; and the tale about picking up the pieces after a failed relationship is very easy on the ear.
The love song Sirens could easily be a Laura Marling song but has a melody and a tune plus Nell Bryden’s voice manages to take on a life of its own towards the end of the dark tale.
By the time I was listening to Couldn’t Love You More I’d made a cup of tea and was just sitting soaking up the loveliness of yet another love song from a young woman that I was rapidly developing a crush on.
Title track Shake the Tree goes right back to the Roots of Blues and uses a fruit tree as a euphemism for male/female naughtiness and Nell’s breathy vocals gave me a tingle in my tummy (and that doesn’t happen very often).
As I became more and more engrossed in the album I struggled to think who Nell Bryden reminded me of – Joan Armatrading? Bonnie Raitt? Possibly; but Nell’s voice is far softer and much more Soulful; then it hit me square on the nose and I howled EUREKA!
If someone was to tell me Nell Bryden was Dusty Springfield’s Granddaughter I wouldn’t be surprised in the least as she has exactly the same tiny rasp at the back of her throat that alludes to a life in the fast lane with regrets and happy memories in equal measures.
Ms Bryden wanders dangerously close to MoR territory on the beautiful ballad Even When a Heart Breaks but; just like Faith Hill she manages to keep it ‘believable’ and will appeal to romantics everywhere.
The album ends with Someday which bares more than a passing resemblance to The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and given a good wind could be a radio hit and bring Nell Bryden to a much wider audience.
SHAKE THE TREE has been a delightful surprise as there’s not a bad track on it; although some are a bit ‘sweet’ for my tastes; Mrs. H loved them as much as I loved the more fiery tracks which is a trick very few singers manage in our house.