Saturday, 18 June 2011

Jo Hamilton - Gown

Another impulse buy, and one that I have no regrets after taking the chance. Jo Hamilton’s beguiling mezzo-soprano is here augmented at various points by a string section, brass, woodwind, found sounds, “Nordic mumbling”, Appalachian dulcimer, gamelan, “curious programming”, as well as the more traditional guitar bass piano and drums.

How to introduce this? Second song Pick Me Up is a great other worldly pop song in the tradition of Kate Bush. In fact Ms Bush might have come up with this album had she found more inspiration than was required to mess about with her back catalogue to no great effect on the underwhelming Director’s Cut.

Jo’s voice is first heard to greatest effect on the hope filled but musically melancholic There It Is, a beautiful piece of writing. Deeper (Glorious) is for me the high point of the album, a slow building slightly off kilter song about a joyously deepening relationship. “This is glorious” proclaims the song and so it is.

Due to her parents constant moving Jo spent time in Turkey, UAE, Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Cambodia in her youth, and now, settled in Birmingham, her well travelled past comes across in the music which covers many global bases while still maintaining its own unique feel, never losing an ear for a good pop tune, if slightly left-field, a plus point in my opinion.

The enhanced edition comes with access to some free downloads, including some photos from various exotic locations. Jamaica is where the jazzy and smoky Paradise was written and it shows in the warm lazy effortless nature of the song. You can almost see the glorious sunset as a string section swoops and glides through the coda. Lovely.

Liathach strays a wee bit too close to power ballad territory for my liking, but the following Mekong Song with only acoustic guitar and gamelan for company, the latter recorded in Cambodia next to a water filled crater, soon puts things back on track..


3.5 out of 5

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