Saturday, 3 October 2015

Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin - Watershed : Dragonfly Roots

A couple of bars into the first track of this album and you can pinpoint it straight away as the work of Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin. Phillip's trademark harmonica has been an established feature on the UK’s folk and roots circuit, especially excelling during the award winning duo’s many live shows up and down the land. WATERSHED is their third studio album, following in the wake of their hugely successful last album MYND. As you would expect from such a talented pairing, the new record is packed full of moving tunes and stimulating songs, with the theme for this release steering more to the personal, contemporary and figurative rather than historical and reflective. However the sound is as cross purpose as before with a heady mix of Appalachia and homespun appeal, ensuring a stream of recognition from both the Americana and folk worlds.

Weighing in at twelve tracks and fifty-four minutes, this album is one of the meatier releases out there, and throw in its style as the antipode of pop leaves many facets to be digested. Lyrically the record is owned by Hannah’s temptress vocals supplemented by her role as the main word architect, but the duo status is strongly bound by the way Phillip's diverse harmonica and slide guitar playing welds together the components of each song. The single word name to each track suggests an uncomplicated stance, yet this belies the enormous depth to the ten songs and two instrumentals.

The first of the instrumentals is titled ‘December’ and fits neatly as the filling of a seasonal trilogy flanked by ‘Conkers’ and ‘January’. The latter is an acapella number, obviously divinely delivered by Hannah and is a prime example of her voice adding beauty to a blank canvas. Phillip does take lead vocal on ‘Yarrow Mill’, an emotive piece inspired by his grandparents meeting in industrial Lancashire. Although the duo are based in Devon, they do take the song writing a  lot further north in the title track with references to Coniston and Lingmoor from the Lake District setting for ‘Watershed’. The sentiments of this excellent opening track can be interpreted as how nature, or in particular rainfall, reflects the uncertainties of life.

The two songs with the most personal appeal appear in the early and latter stages of the record. ‘Stones’ is a beautifully written response to the UKIP representative who associated gay marriage with the stormy weather. A song packed with sumptuous slide guitar, a fine groove and the striking line ‘wherever they choose to love’. Later in the album, the touching track ‘Foundling’ delves straight to your heat. The sentiment is heavy and the last line of the final verse poignantly states that the mother’s eyes are ‘a bit like mine’. The theme is continued a couple of tracks later following Phillip's arrangement of the Irish traditional tune ‘Lament’, when the more upbeat ‘London’ suggests an optimistic future for the subject.

Of the remaining three tracks, ‘Letter (Unsent)’ is tender and evocative, ‘Tonight’ is a short lyrical piece defined by harmonica and fiddle, and ‘Taxis’ is a more explicit song emphasising the transient nature of their musical calling. Throughout the record, the inventive musicianship, satisfying blend and beautiful artistry takes the music of Phillip and Hannah to another level.

While WATERSHED does not delve into the territory of their popular gig singalong ‘The Nailmakers’ Strike’ and all its protest connotations, the content is far more subtle, demanding the listener’s absolute attention before endlessly spilling its riches. This album is about the evolution of Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin as a recording duo without erasing those trademark qualities. The connection from artistic talent to active listener is well and truly made.

Ange Hardy - Esteesee : Story Records

Some music you can take at face value, while other demands that little more attention. Approach the new album from Ange Hardy from the first angle and a fabulous eclectic mix of sound variety will thoroughly enchant you. Dig deeper into the background of this project and further riches will emerge in a dazzle of romanticist enlightenment. Of course the recommendation is to fully embrace all aspects of ESTEESEE and absorb your mind into the magnificent detail of Ange’s valued attempt to revive the words of Samuel Taylor Coleridge to a contemporary audience.

Taking inspiration from poems, stories, epitaphs, events and wider environmental context, Ange has conjured up a fourteen-track adulation to the life and work of this lauded English historical literary figure from the late eighteenth century. The album’s title is taken from initials of the subject’s name and through what is a fairly slick thirty-seven minute duration, it is difficult not to be smitten by Ange’s passion and creative nous for committing this project to song, verse and musical arrangement.
Not surprisingly, funding was available from arts sources for this key project, and Ange has recruited well to formulate the album’s sonic appeal. The guest vocals of Steve Knightly and the various string accompaniments from Patsy Reid are the two names to leap out from the list of players, with perhaps the starkest contribution being the reading of Coleridge’s famous poem by broadcaster and artist Tamsin Rosewell. The emotive reading of ‘Kubla Khan’ almost anchors the record with its central position in the track list and is just one of several spoken parts to heap further focus on the lyrical content. Ange is credited with writing and arranging all the tracks and liberally references the lifting of many snippets from the works of Coleridge.

Among the many fascinating facets of this album, the sheer elegance of the standard three minute ballads all sung beautifully and decorating the message that Ange wants to get over, which is no more or less than modern day recognition of the subject’s life. Her previous work has courted honours both for album content and vocal ability, and there is little doubt that ESTEESEE will be lapped up by folk traditionalists and historians alike. This is by no means the limit of the appeal evidenced by the gorgeous presentation and allure to educate where perhaps many intriguing minds have not been before. To maximise the immense pleasure from plunging into the depth of this record, exposure to the concise and informative insert sleeve is recommended and certainly the insight is better explained through Ange’s words than review regurgitation.

If you want to learn more about Coleridge’s links to the philosophical term pantisocracy, his self-penned epitaph, the trail in Somerset and Devon named in his honour and deeper analysis of his relationships, Ange has provided a super source via her imaginative writing. Numerous candidates for radio play to at least showcase the unrelenting appeal of Ange’s vocal ability can be found in ‘My Captain’, ‘Friends of Three’ and the title track ‘Esteesee’. While Ange is keen on vocal collaboration and harmony, her own skills reach unsurpassable peaks when left alone to flourish on the open stage.

ESTEESEE is pure archetypical folk music, dark in places, explicit in narrative and wonderfully packaged. The jolly and jaunty persona to this album gives it a sense of renewal and if the ubiquitous revival of romantic poetry is once again in our midst, then Ange Hardy can be a chief protagonist. Otherwise just marvelling in the magnitude of this project will broaden your mind, engage your listening senses and add immense value to your overall enjoyment of music. 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Kim Lowings and the Greenwood (Album Launch) - Scary Canary Venue, Stourbridge. Thursday 1st October 2015

The starting gun has been fired and the second full length album by Kim Lowings and the Greenwood is now fully available to the waiting world. A packed gathering at an eclectic venue in Kim’s hometown of Stourbridge provided the backdrop to the launch gig and the evening proved a resounding success to all parties involved. The most important part of this event is to celebrate the rewards of the endurance from making the album and set up the next phase of spreading the joys of the record to a wider audience. Being amongst family, friends and supporters can be as equally challenging as comforting for the artist, but Kim can reap enormous satisfaction from how the events unfolded which included a pair of sets from her temporarily enlarged band and the opening set from good friends, Hicks and Goulbourn.

Scary Canary is a purpose fit new entertainment venue in the heart of Stourbridge and generally gears to more left field and underground music acts. It hasn’t yet branched out into hosting regular roots music nights, but possesses an intimate charm to be a useful addition to the West Midlands scene. The configuration proved a touch tricky in initially accommodating a large listening audience. However folks soon found ways to best view the proceedings which started shortly before eight and concluded a little after eleven.

The Greenwood has a fairly settled three piece back line supporting Kim, but this evening the usual quartet was enhanced by the guest appearances of Leon Gormley (Cittern) and Lewis Jones (mandolin and Swedish nickel harp).This latter instrument played a substitute role for the violin which illuminates a number of the tracks on the new record. It was business as usual for the remainder of band with Tim Rogers playing his stoical role on Cajon and percussion and Dave Sutherland driving the double bass and adding the backing vocals. Last but certainly not least, Andrew Lowings has his usual quiet yet irreplaceable presence on bouzouki and bodhrum.

The artistic package of Kim is evolving impressively as her writing and song inspiration skills develop to match the beauty of her vocals and highly crafted musical ability. The undoubted pressure of the evening, coupled with the odd technical difficulty plus shaking off an unwanted ailment were all dismissed with ultimate professionalism. Whether utilising her trademark mountain dulcimer, standard acoustic guitar or rising supremely to the challenge of the unaccompanied vocal piece, the effect was confident, assured and entirely consistent.

The evening was obviously revolved around the new record HISTORIA and ten of the eleven tracks featured across the two sets. Kim followed the structure of the record by opening with ‘The Wood Wife’ before launching straight into the singalong track ‘Maggie’s Song’, which acts as the album’s most ear-catching tune. Quite often stand out live tracks can differ from the recorded originals and the most effective songs from the album to surface this evening were ‘Lullaby’ and ‘Regrets’. The second had a set list switch as Kim brushed off a minor technical difficulty to excel on this excellent showpiece of her vocal skills.

Monsoon’ and the instrumental piece ‘Alfrick’ were the two other new tunes to appear in the first set which also saw her return to two older numbers in ‘The Wonderful Mr. Clarke’ and ‘New Moon’. The latter of these two consisted of a re-work from its initial format and this theme of band re-interpretation was also found in the set’s concluding number, an original version of the standard traditional tune ‘The Cuckoo’.  Running right through the night was Kim’s enthusiastic introduction to a majority of the songs selected, whilst sharing her passion for alternative folklore and the lure of traditional song.

As if to make a statement that life after HISTORIA is underway, Kim introduced a further new song after the break with ‘In Spirit’ proving the successful culmination of her enchanted interest with folklore and this time, specifically Russian inspired. The second half had started with a solo song from Leon Gormley, before the band resumed roles and Kim revealing the source of her anger song ‘I’m Still Here’. However some onstage revelations remain such that. Following another song from the album ‘Willow’ and a number simply titled ‘Stay’, the remainder of the set focussed on a batch of traditional tunes; some dark, some upbeat but always forever folk.

Dark Eyed Sailor’ and ‘Bonny Labouring Boy’ both had recorded versions added to the album, while Kim decided to base the gig climax on two upbeat songs inviting the ubiquitous audience participation. ‘The Begging Song’ and ‘Away Ye Merry Lasses’ have become staples of a Kim Lowings’ show and would be significantly missed if ever removed. The enthusiastic and appreciative crowd refused to allow this to be the evening’s close and Kim needed little persuasion to return to offer a stunning version of ‘Annie Laurie’. The sparkling video performance of this song has been Kim’s major online selling tool for the last couple of years and hopefully the new record will offer further opportunities to promote her talent by the wonderful world of this popular medium.

With a desire to ensure her loyal supporters had a full evening of entertainment, Kim invited the experienced North-East based roots duo Hicks and Goulbourn to open the evening. Drawing influence from a wide range of cross Atlantic sources, the virtuoso guitar-playing of Steve Hicks and versatile vocal and musical offerings from Lynn Goulbourn combine to engage their audiences with wit, fine music and entertaining song. Their confident persona set the bar high for Kim and the guys to follow, but nothing was going to phase the band on their big night.

The major task is now for Kim Lowings and the Greenwood to successfully spread the word of HISTORIA and use a variety of mechanisms to grow their live following and ensure the album has many new homes. The quality of the product and the talent to convey it is undisputed. The music industry is littered with miscarriages of justice, but there is a positive feeling that this situation may not necessarily be the destination of HISTORIA and the wider talents of Kim Lowings.

Review of Historia

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Frankie Lee - American Dreamer : Loose Music

This album is gift wrapped for dreamers, whether you’re living it real stateside or hooked up in an estate in suburban England armed with a fistful of records celebrating the West. Frankie Lee has lived the life of a country song and now his debut album AMERICAN DREAMER unveils as a road map to the land of endless highways. This widely travelled artist, now based in Minneapolis, has teamed up with Loose Music for its European release and praise has come rushing in from a plethora of trusted sources. What the listener is presented with is a compact set of ten tracks bathed in the essence of a late night jam. What you are left with is the satisfied feeling of letting a deluge of cool Americana music soak right through layer upon layer of emotive resistance.

Lee bases his writing on the vastness of the rural landscape and uses impressive imagery skills to relay the contents of his fertile imagination. Musically, Lee has gravitated to the piano for his sound accompaniment treading in the footsteps of many of his compatriot luminaries. The vocals wrap around each tune with a delightful feel of a wearisome soul, yet marvellously match the mood of the songs’ sentiments. The true worth of any record is to raise a satisfying smile with each listen and the continual playing of sensational album opener ‘High and Dry’ manages this every time the tones of the track hit your aural senses. A killer chorus is a key part of many a good song with the banjo and fiddle parts adding to the impact of this storming start.

Echoes of classic 70’s singer-songwriter rock is etched on ‘Black Dog’, an era continually surfacing in much of the current Americana output. The full sound inserted into this track adds an air of grandeur to the overall feel of the album. A softer yet equally as tough side of Lee comes across on the emotive ‘Queen of Carolina’ which lowers the mood without lowering the quality. A road song built around love adorns this sultry number bestowed with some useful harmonica. The mood is retained with ‘East Side Blues’, or if anything a haunting sound makes it one of the album’s darker corners. The other song to reside in the album’s first half, or side A on the undoubtedly sought after vinyl format, is the solid twang induced melody that emerges from ‘Where Do We Belong’.

The second half opens with a couple of contrasting sounding tracks in ‘Buffalo’ and ‘Honest Man’. The first has been selected for album promotion and rolls along with a steady rock-laden groove, while the latter is a more laid back offering. There is nothing wrong with a stab at a little soul in any Americana album and the nearest you get to that on AMERICAN DREAMER is the fascinating vibes emanating from ‘Know By Now’, reflecting Lee at his ear pleasing best. ‘Horses’ emerges as the album’s penultimate track and if you are not transfixed by the sound of Frankie Lee now then it’s perhaps time to seek pastures new. However the initiated will be fully on board and absolutely on the radar of Lee’s enticing sound. Saving the title track to the end proves a masterstroke for Lee, as the piano intro to ‘Americana Dreamer’ sets the scene for an evocative number sealing the deal of this being a class album from start to finish.

Frankie Lee has nailed a genre in his debut album with the essential ingredients securely in place to exceed expectations in terms of instrument sound, vocal feel and ability to feed the imaginative reservoirs of an intriguing mind. AMERICAN DREAMER is a driving, gritty and expansive release representing all that is alluring about a quality Americana record. A UK suburban record collection has been enriched by the addition of this album and it would be wise for like-minded people to do the same upon its October 2nd release.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Cardboard Fox - Kitchen Garden Cafe, Kings Heath, Birmingham. Monday 21st September 2015

You can’t go wrong with the acoustic combo of guitar, violin, mandolin and double bass, as witnessed by the good folks of the Kitchen Garden Café this evening. Throw in a pair of gorgeous voices and a bunch of songs, both borrowed and new, and the ingredients were in place for an entertaining show by Cardboard Fox. If the name is not yet on your horizon, there may be a chance that the Carrivick Sisters is, with the link being that Laura and Charlotte form the perfect half of this quartet set to thrill the world of UK roots music. Together with Joe Tozer and John Breese, the band is rolling along in sync with the Carrivick Sisters format and likely to rise to an even higher profile over the next six months. In the run up to the debut album recording and subsequent release, Cardboard Fox are embarking on a series of UK dates and what better place to call in than the intimate surroundings Birmingham’s premier acoustic listening venue.

By paying homage to such iconic performers as Joni Mitchell, Bill Monroe, Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss and Bob Dylan, the band isn’t shy on learning from the masters and make more than a decent effort with covering popular numbers such as ‘Don’t Think Twice’, ‘Tear My Stillhouse Down’ and ‘Raised on Robbery’.  The early Alison Krauss number ‘Endless Highway’ was the pick of the covers with Bill Monroe’s ‘Cry, Cry Darlin’’ being the most akin to the band’s bluegrass pretensions. However, the original compositions which surface from studio to record to stage are often the key measures of band format credence.  From this angle, the band put out four new songs on their debut EP last year and the impact led to acknowledgement from Spiral Earth, one of the UK’s leading roots websites.

All four songs appeared in tonight’s set list with ‘Ego’ and ‘Green Skin’ featuring in the first half, followed by ‘Balloon’ and ‘Someone Else’s Shoes’ excelling after the break. The latter originates from the pen of mandolin player Joe Tozer, who made waves during the evening with a highly enjoyable playing performance thoroughly impressive from close quarters. It’s a pity that the unsung bass player is often last in the credits, but this is no slur on the accomplished performance of John Breese. John’s association with Laura and Charlotte goes back a while and a couple of years ago he joined the Carrivick Sisters on stage at the Maverick Festival.

Although egalitarian in projection, it is hard to argue against Laura and Charlotte being the face of Cardboard Fox. The twins take sole control of the band’s vocal output, mixing harmonies and shared lead pieces. Musically the girls are top notch with Laura injecting a countrification sound drenched in pure Appalachia via her trusty fiddle.The heady mix of solo and backing segments blend supremely with Charlotte’s guitar playing. The outstanding interaction with Joe’s mandolin added the cream to a sound thrilling folks within the café’s brickwork interior. Instrumentals such as ‘Rebecca’ and ‘Daybreak in Dixie’ were the ideal vehicle for the talent to blossom. Other songs of note to add value to the evening, and represent the breadth of their influence, were the traditional number ‘Jordan’ and a new song named ‘Believe’ earmarked for the upcoming album.

Laura, Charlotte, Joe and John are a breath of fresh air on the UK roots scene, providing a celebrated bridge between the traditional sounds of our shores and its American cousin. It was a delight to attend this show and be presented with an opportunity to promote the band from first-hand experience. Cardboard Fox already possess a memorable hook to its name and further indulging in the wares of this band will splendidly embed their music.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Lucy Ward - I Dreamt I Was A Bird : Betty Beetroot Records

Lucy Ward is a wavelength artist who will lure and mesmerise those tuned into her stimulating and progessive approach to music, although art is a more appropriate word. Praise has not been in short supply for the Derbyshire based artist and I DREAMT I WAS A BIRD will surely follow in the wake of the 25 year old’s previous two albums. The prestigious BBC Radio 2 Folk awards have already recognised her prodigious and innovative talent in multiple categories. Lucy, with the help of her assembled team of players and the production stewardship of Stu Hanna, has served up a sumptuous serving of nine diverse songs, spanning the breadth of her imagination and influences. Together they package into a mystical world of left field artistry and a record straining every sinew of your aural capacity.

My frequency connection with the waves of Lucy Ward occurred earlier this year during a live show and has been totally sealed after delving deep into the realms of the new record. In a sincere act of experimental folk, Lucy has chosen eight original compositions for the album plus an interesting version of the much sung border ballad ‘Lord Randall’. The result is a compelling listen, forever testing the endurance of the listener in terms of mental stimulation making this not a record for the faint ear. There is an earthy beauty within the vocals of Lucy, frequently infiltrated with a hint of North Midland’s brogue. There are times on this record when the sheer elegance shines brightly and others when the breath is held as boundaries are expertly tested.

‘Song for Lola’ is the beautiful ballad acoustically anchored to the mid part of the record which reveals the gorgeous state of Lucy’s vocal range, but the heavyweight tracks in the first half of the record succeed in making the greater profound impact. Lucy is emerging as a passionate social commentator as witnessed by the rhetoric at her shows, following her online profile and observing her presence on the protest album LAND OF HOPE AND FURY. The commissioning role of penning a song based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South led Lucy to spin around the concept of rich and poor with ‘Creatures and Demons’ being the sparkling result. The vocals soar on this piece as the B3 organ kicks in towards the latter stages of the track. The line ‘profit mad master’ is just an introduction to the fiery side of Lucy’s protest stance.

The other heavyweight song on the album is the immensely impressive ‘Lion’ where with the help of the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band, Lucy dramatically re-surfaces the story of a World War 1 execution for cowardice. Robert Loveless Barker gets the send-off he deserves a hundred years after this hideous crime and one uncovered following a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. The dramatic score adds to the sense of drama and represents a mood inducing production, often subtle in places and always signposting the listener to the feelings of the song.

Back to the characters and issues in a short while, but at this moment it’s worth mentioning the opening and closing tracks which both hark back to the fundamental features of the land and climate. ‘Summers That We Made’ is a haunting and delightful introduction to the record with the violin excelling. ‘Return to Earth’ has a more sincere message at the end of the album with the line ‘we are choking I can no longer sing’ leaving food for thought from this environmental piece.

Two of the final three tracks have their inspiration closer to home for Lucy. ‘Daniel and the Mermaid’ is a true family sighting of a mermaid many years ago off the shore of Scotland with an invitation to free your mind a little and connect with the eye of the beholder. The album’s title is a line lifted from this song which possesses eerie and gothic tendencies in its haunting and experimental capacity. ‘Ode to Whittaker Brown’ is a more temperate song in the album number two slot and is based on her own mother’s upbringing in the post war dwelling of a Nissen Hut. Not family linked but further social commentary concludes the album in ‘Connie and Bud’ with Lucy once again highlighting the role of life’s underdogs.

I DREAMT I WAS A BIRD is a wonderful piece of theatrical music making. Consistently rooted in the folk tradition of story-telling and flowing with instrumentation such as harmonium, violin, concertina and piano, this record has a beckoning and addictive appeal. Checking into the wavelength of Lucy Ward is a beguiling experience and immersing into the mystical and radical word of her artistic creativity leads to endless riches.

Kim Lowings and the Greenwood - Historia : Self Released

If you want conclusive proof that the future of folk music in the Black Country is in rude health then look no further than the new album from Kim Lowings and the Greenwood. The record scores the first of many outstanding points with surely the most inspirational of album titles to emerge this year. Succinct to the core of its single word constitution, HISTORIA is the Ancient Greek take on learning from the past to inform the present and look to the future. The whole embodiment of this sentiment resides within Kim’s second full length release and one revealing a confidently assured singing-song writing performer to the ears of the listener.

Whether re-interpreting classic traditional folk songs or using the power of observation and association to form an immensely ear catching original composition, Kim succeeds in engineering an acutely balanced album capturing the essence of her creativity, beautiful vocals and the combined talents of her assembled musical compatriots. Checking in at forty-seven minutes long takes the album into optimum listening territory and rarely does it fail to engage the listener. The option to devour the lyrics or just kick back and savour the sonic appeal is available to all, although the only recommendation from these quarters is to do both.

There can be only one place to commence the song analysis and that is a piece showing an increased versatility to reach out a little from an entrenched folk base. While ‘Maggie’s Song’ is essentially a folk song for the twenty-first century, and introduced by a family recording very much in the style of how folk tales were collected from the field throughout the ages. What follows is by far the most contemporary sound Kim has recorded or played live in her brief career. In the possession of a catchy killer chorus supported by a stellar melody, this stand out track shines like a beacon in attracting popular appeal, while remaining true to the core of substance and quality.

No doubt many fans of the folk genre will identify with and assess Kim’s take on the three traditional songs to feature on the record. ‘Dark Eyed Sailor’, ‘Bonny Labouring Boy’ and ‘The Blacksmith’ each have a lengthy recording history and there are no blemishes on Kim’s interpretation. A popular recent version of the first of this trio was Olivia Chaney’s BBC session and Kim’s is not out of place in this lauded company. However far from dwelling on the traditional, which is obviously a key component of HISTORIA, it is the originals that put the marker down for the true depth of the record.

Heading these in album order is ‘The Wood Wife’ which evolves into a strong messaged fable-like piece of work, rich in morals and lessons. Like many songs in the folk tradition, further background is likely to emerge in the live shows and many dates are lined up following the album launch gig in Kim’s hometown of Stourbridge in October. If the opening track had the feel of the past about it, the follow up number ‘I’m Still Here’ is right to the core of the modern world and will resonate with many listeners. Ultimately it deals with workplace tension in a brave way and plants the seeds of an alternative outlook.

A couple of songs have been circulating around Kim’s live shows for a while. ‘Alfrick’ is an instrumental piece arranged by Andrew Lowings and provides a jaunty mid album word-free break to rejuvenate your listening acumen. At this stage it is polite to introduce the Greenwood who has a core of Andrew (guitar, bouzouki), Tim Rogers (Cajon, percussion) and Dave Sutherland (bass). Alongside the bouzouki and Kim’s trademark Mountain Dulcimer, another traditional instrument in the guise of a cittern makes an appearance courtesy of Leon Gormley. It has often been noted when seeing the band live on several occasions, the value of the violin from Anna Oprenova. While this has been infrequent of late, Anna’s services have been secured for the record with resounding effect. Dave Draper assisted Kim with the production duties and provides the electric guitar input to re-enforce the modern tinge. Last but not least on the album credits, is the backing vocal contribution of Ange Hardy.

These backing vocals appeared on one of the songs which have previously been featured in a live show. ‘Monsoon’ is a highly descriptive and striking track painting the image and emotion of experiencing extreme weather in Singapore. It has a powerful conclusive segment to cement the effect of the song. While on the topic of emotion, ‘Regrets’ is another excellent inclusion to the album and tells of a thought provoking encounter with a stranger while creating the backdrop for the vocals to flourish. Earlier in the album, Kim had taken down the sound to a sublime sleepy level with the delightfully and simply titled ‘Lullaby’, explicitly doing what this suggests. By opening with the chorus, this implies an element of diversity to Kim’s song writing and this notion can also be applied to the excellent ‘Willow’ which concludes the track list. Rich in personification and personal perception, Kim truly cracks the song writing process with this effort and it matches up well with the entirety of the album.

This is a valued and proud record showing Kim Lowings as a purposeful singer-songwriter marrying the talents of those in her midst. From a modest infrastructure, a record fully deserved of praise on a grander scale has emerged. For an honest and creative take on the past, present and future, HISTORIA is the perfect album, with Kim Lowings and the Greenwood being defintely a band to investigate further.

Try before you buy : Maggie's Song