Filed under: album, EP, review | Tags: 2009, alan pedder, bebel gilberto, charlotte richardson andrews, julie doiron, lucy brouwer, music, shona foster
A little later than usual this month, here’s a little roundup of some of the releases we didn’t get time to review in full over the last 6 weeks. In this first of four parts, we take a look at Julie Doiron’s latest side venture, a folk trio called Daniel, Fred & Julie, plus new releases from Shona Foster and Bebel Gilberto.
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Daniel, Fred & Julie
Daniel, Fred & Julie •••½
Arriving without fanfare of any kind, this latest venture from Canadian indie icon Julie Doiron is a sweet and entirely unpretentious album of traditional and trad-leaning folk. With Attack In Black’s Dan Romano and her regular musical cohort Fred Squire playing the Peter and Paul to Doiron’s Mary Travers, this 10-track album was recorded off the cuff in Doiron’s garage in August and has been available at recent live shows as a covetable 10” vinyl. Vocal duties are split equitably between the three musicians, and given the unrehearsed, spontaneous nature of these acoustic recordings, are just as beautifully arranged on instinct as they could have been with more planning.
On their enjoyably wonky version of Lorenz Hart’s ‘Hallelujah, I’m A Bum’, Doiron’s high, frayed vocal sounds as if it’s unfurling from a 1920s gramophone, while the harmonies on ‘Down By The Weeping Willow’ are straight out of a classic Disney soundtrack. Other highlights include the seven-minute epic ‘The Gambler & His Bride’, a blissful reading of Stephen Foster’s ‘I Dream Of Jeanie’ and a gorgeous, violin-kissed version of the classic ‘Clementine’. An anachronistic gem that exudes a weary coolness and a love for the material that simply can’t be faked, Daniel, Fred & Julie is a lightweight but no less laudable outing for all concerned.
Available on import only; www.myspace.com/juliedoiron
Hard Work EP ••½
Scots-born, Yorkshire-bred and Brighton-based, Shona Foster has cultivated her polished soprano from North to South, so it’s no disservice to say that it’s her voice which stands out most on this collection of somewhat theatrical songs. But while there are encouraging hints of Tori Amos’s melodic ear and Regina Spektor’s quirky pop, these never really develop into full canvasses, and it’s the equal measures of Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson that let this EP down.
Technically very competent, even impressive, but not particularly contemporary, the Hard Work EP hangs together awkwardly. There’s a touch of the Tim Burtons about the jaunty ‘Dance Of The Meanies’, and more than a whiff of Eastern European cabaret in the piano and violin on the two versions of the title track. Foster is at her best, however, when singing a little more soulfully on ‘Dirty Rivers’ and ‘Collision’, the latter being the standout with its little traces of Natasha Khan’s breathy vocal style. Overall, however, Foster’s affectations, sometimes trite lyrics and the strident instrumentation leave the impression that, rather than standing on their own merits, these songs are wanting for a stage show in which to become Sweeney Todd-style production numbers.
UK release date: 26/10/09; www.myspace.com/shonafoster
All In One ••••
As the daughter of two gifted musicians, New York-born Brazilian performer Bebel Gilberto was bound to have some hereditary rhythm in her blood. She duly began her career with pre-teen performances and eventually progressed to Grammy nominations, MOBO awards and collaborations with some equally stellar talents. Her cross-cultural appeal has meant ties to both the Latin community and a Western audience, and as All In One reaffirms, Gilberto is a versatile talent capable of pleasing both.
Sung predominantly in Portuguese with English verses making unassumingly sweet appearances every now and then, Gilberto’s sixth album is a pleasure. ‘Bim Bom’ sees her indulge in a jazzy duet with Daniel Jobim, grandson of bossa nova legend Antonio Carlos Jobim, giving the song which was first recorded by her father João Gilberto some years back a youthful update. Swaying, slow tempo opener ‘Cancao de Amor’ delights, while the Stevie Wonder-penned, Mark Ronson-produced ‘Real Thing’ crosses Latin and high-end pop with style. An expertly blended work of traditional bossa nova sounds given a lilting, rhythmic, desert island exotica, All In One is exactly that, a complete package, making it a perfect benchmark for Gilberto’s impressively colourful career.
Charlotte Richardson Andrews
UK release date: 28/09/09; www.myspace.com/bebelgilberto
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