ALBUM REVIEW: Phantom Limb “Live In Bristol”

Record Label: Naim Edge
Release Date: 24.08.2010

Anyone who has ever seen Bristol’s Phantom Limb live, the vibrant power of the captivating Yolande Quartey is indescribable. Her ability to emote every intonation with each pore on her body makes even the most agile vocalist pale in comparison. However, as many great live bands have found in the past, converting an enthralling live set to record is an almost impossible feat. Whilst Phantom Limb’s studio recordings are far from disappointing, they lack the colourful energy of the live scenario. Thus, in a stoke of potential genius, Phantom Limb have resorted to “Live In Bristol”, an 8-track collection of past recordings and live favourites.

As with all Phantom Limb efforts, former Massive Attack vocalist Quartey is the star attraction. Whilst the subtle country-soul compositions would impress with any capable vocalist, Quartey lifts from the notable to the unforgettable, with one difference, the ‘live’ recording allows Quartey to push past studio controls and often leaves the listener breathlessly spine tingled.

However, it is important to not just dwell on a groups strengths and scratch the surface for other strengths and weaknesses. Even without the contribution of Quartey, it is safe to say that “Live In Bristol” lacks the ever-present skip tracks. The simple but effective songwriting approach is both direct and honest. With no frills attached, Phantom Limb appear to veer away from musical trickery and favour solid song construction. Whilst “Good Fortune” is arguably forgettable, the lull in proceedings is in fact a much-needed break from the emotion of “Angel Of Death” and allows a change in mood before the delicately upbeat “Waiting Around To Fall”, which in turn is Quartey’s only weak point.

“Live In Bristol” does not fully manage to capture the live dynamism of the sextet, but does go a lot further than their previous recordings. “Live In Bristol” is not just a sturdy effort, but rather an exciting prospect that entices a listener to the live arena as opposed to other recordings.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams


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