ALBUM REVIEW: The Lucinda Belle Orchestra “My Voice & 45 Strings”

Label:  Island
Release Date: 12.07.2010

 The story of Lucinda Belle, from her discovery whilst working in her family’s launderette in London, to the odd bit of amateur boxing, and in more recent times supporting the likes of Annie Lennox, Rufus Wainwright and even Missy Elliott, leaves you wanting to ask her to pick your lottery numbers this week. In some ways her rise from an impromptu appearance on the BBC’s Radio 1 to the £1.25 million recording contract is not that surprising as soon as “My Voice & 45 Strings” opens.

The title track sets a high standard for the whole album – combining rootsy jazz, her sweetly sultry tones and for the unsuspecting listener the introduction of the harp played like you have never heard it before. Her talent is undeniable, and the first single from the album, ‘Dodo Blues’, is reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe’s ‘I Wanna Be Loved By You’ colliding headlong into Norah Jones. Yes, it is a strange mix but Belle pulls it off quite magnificently. You sit there listening along and suddenly feel the need to sing “Boo-boo-bee-doo” at certain moments.

As beautiful tracks go, ‘Northern Lights’ certainly hits the mark. A mellow, hope-filled number, which we have a sneaking suspicion would fit into a nice little waltz with effortless spin-turns across the ballroom drawing the crowd in. But, ‘Northern Lights’ is not an elusive beauty amongst a myriad of thorn-like tracks, the entire album flows from start to finish showcasing the talents of Belle.

‘Unlucky in Love’ is a track that is deep, emotional and heavy. Apart from the melody taking the listener on a journey, Belle’s vocals are as distinctive as those of other fellow female singers who have emerged from London in recent years. This is used to good effect in ‘Keep On Looking’ which sees her double up with Andrew Roachford whose own vocals led him on a journey of equal proportions to Belle’s – signing a seven album deal with Columbia Records many moons ago.

The mix of rootsy-jazz filled with smokey-blues, and a harpist who is innovative enough to make sure that there are no 10 minute harp solos in the middle of a track, means this is a must have any listener who has a smidgen (that’s right!) of maturity needs in their collection. That in itself is what makes this album so outstanding, with the harp suitably supporting her very real vocal talents.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Constantinos Kypridemos


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