Quick CD Reviews: Ward Thomas, Carrie Tree, Suzy Bogguss
A quick look at some new releases. My modus operandi is not necessarily to endorse a piece of work, but bring it to people’s attention. But I don’t write about things I actively dislike. Life’s too short and I don’t want to trash someone who has worked very hard to produce something.
Footnotes by Ward Thomas: What business two 19-year old twin sisters from the posh English county of Hampshire have putting together a rollicking country/Americana album is beyond me. But I find it immensely refreshing that such young talents are not X-Factor/Pop Idol warbling like so many of their misbegotten contemporaries. Welcome them with open arms.
The four songs on this EP are all very good. For the most part they come across a bit like the Dixie Chicks, who with Alison Krauss, Johnny Cash and Carrie Underwood are said to have inspired them. But they are no copycats. They stand in their own right. My favourite song on the album is a more traditional rendering of Dougie MacLean‘s folk classic “Caledonia”. Quite lovely.
I think it behooves us to support young people like this. There is a U.S. tour in the works. Here’s a sample:
Home To The Invisible by Carrie Tree: This is also quite beautiful but less Americana and more folk. I had only vaguely heard of her before being sent this new CD, but Tree has apparently worked with the likes of Damien Rice and Carly Simon and appeared on William’s Green Stage (a take on a British village green) at Glastonbury Festival. So you get the idea.
I like most of the songs on this album, but here are some I picked out. “Glory Box” is a plaintive cry for a reason to love accompanied by a haunting cello. “Perfectly Cast” is folk-jazz with strings and (I think) clarinet. “Mama Kita” is probably my favourite with its African backing and almost Pentangle styling.
All in all, one that I am sure I will go back to when I’m feeling mellow. Here’s the “Mama Kita” video:
Lucky by Suzy Boggus: This has already been reviews on No Depression by Bill Frater but I thought I would put in my tuppence worth(trans: Add my two cents) anyway.
Bogguss has been around since the 1980s with various degrees of accolades – winning the Academy of Country Music‘s award for Top New Female Vocalist and the Country Music Association‘s Horizon Award. That should tell you what to expect.
Her latest offering is almost pure Country (try “The Bottle Let Me Down”, as evidence, both in terms of style and lyrics). As such it is perfectly enjoyable. I wonder though whether Bogguss’ voice is a little too smooth for this kind of singing. By that I don’t mean that Country singers can sing. They can, but the very best of them have a kind of painful depth which is sometimes missing here.
An example is “If We Make It Through December”. It is about being laid off, the winter being cold and a little girl not understanding why no Christmas cheer. But Bogguss’ voice is so pretty the song sounds too happy. It works much better, for example, with “Let’s Chase Each Other Round The Room” which is about … well, you can guess.
Overall, though, Bogguss has put together a fine album that is definitely worth your time.