ALBUM REVIEW: Maria Doyle Kennedy “Sing”

Maria Doyle Kennedy questions “Am I Choosing Right” as she opens her fifth studio album “Sing”, and the immediate answer is a blissful, resounding YES! The Irish singer/songwriter may be better known as Mrs Bates in “Downton Abbey” and Katherine of Aragon in “The Tudors”, but her lush vocals have been making their mark in her home country since the late 80s, so it is about time that her lush vocals are celebrated the world over.

“Sing” is a subtle, simple recording that emanates beauty from start to finish. With guest vocals from Damien Rice (“Sing”), Paul Brady (“Hola Luna”) and John Prine (“Yes We Will”), Kennedy displays an ability to share the spotlight yet still shine.

While her compositions are tender and beautiful, her lyrics are often pressing and poignant. However, it is a reflective Kennedy who really makes her mark. The self-determination of “The Silence” raises the bar, only to be superseded by the wistful “Yes We Will”.

Kennedy boasts the radio friendliness of Damien Rice, the sensitivity of Eva Cassidy and  the heart of Shelby Starner, yet it is her inner Joni Mitchell that shines through. “Sing” is a well-written, well-produced, uplifiting album that ticks every box and so much more. Simply put, “Sing” is much more than beautiful.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

ALBUM REVIEW: Louise Latham “Reclaimed”

Boasting the whimsical lyrical innocence of Lotte Mullan and the colourful vocal of Paula Cole, Cardiff native Louise Latham is an exciting musical prospect. Chirping “I’m not a saint”, on the opening track (“Saint”) of her debut album “Reclaimed”, is an angelic presence whose protestations hang curiously in the air. Who is Latham? What has she to say? Why so adamant as she makes her introduction? As soon as her proclaiming ceases, she kicks into the dancey come-on “Melt Me Down Like Chocolate”, and it is clear that her duality oozes appeal.

Latham’s easy on the eye and easy on the ear appeal is immediately apparent, but what makes her such an interesting artist is that she can bolster the power like Nell Bryden, reign it all in like Ane Brun but most importantly tell a story like the unforgettable Eva Cassidy.

While “Erase Me” provides the album’s low point mid-way through proceedings, Latham rarely slips up in the album’s structure. Though the lush subtleties of “Together Tonight” form the album highlight, the country strut of “Young Boy” and whirl of “Melt Me Like Chocolate” make a strong case for Latham to explore the Paula Cole as opposed to Sarah MacLahlan within.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

THEATRE REVIEW: Over The Rainbow: The Eva Cassidy Story, New Alexandra Theatre (Birmingham), 27.01.2012

Playing to a sell out audience on their first night in Birmingham, this is the poignant and moving story of Washington-born singer Eva Cassidy. By the time of her death, she was unknown outside Washington but within four years Terry Wogan discovered and promoted her haunting interpretation of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ to the top of the chart.
This sad but uplifting musical play journeys through her life, from her idyllic childhood growing up in a musical family, to her studio work with boyfriend and mentor Chris Biondo; to the exuberant live recording of “Blues Alley” arriving finally to her tragically premature death at the age of only 33.
This emotive award winning musical had the audience both up and dancing and in tears. Incredibly moving and heart breaking, the musical highlights the love of Eva Cassidy’s Family and friends for her and how she was in good spirits throughout her battle with cancer.
Full of Eva Cassidy’s best loved songs including, “Fields of Gold”, “Over the Rainbow” and “Songbird”, Sarah Jane Buckley left the audience amazed by her incredibly touching voice.
More than a musical life-story, “Over The Rainbow: The Eva Cassidy Story” is a show for anyone who has lost someone they love. A thoroughly entertaining and a truly memorable experience and continues to tour the U.K.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Eleni Kypridemos 

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