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Album Review: Plumhall - Thundercloud (Splid Records)

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As an opening gambit, I return to the Moonbeams Festival this summer, where I was casually heading over to the Garden Stage at the Moonbeams Festival up there in Yorkshire, when the distant sound of something resembling early Buckingham Nicks danced upon the ether. Once I reached my destination, I discovered an old pal and his wife on stage entertaining a packed audience with their engaging songs. Nick B Hall is a hard working singer/songwriter, whose musical partnership with sibling Duncan (The Hall Brothers) has survived for decades. Michelle Plum is also a hard working singer/songwriter, previously of Chumbawamba, Waking the Witch and The Accidental Tourists fame, and between them both, we detect a fairly solid and admirable household work ethic. One imagines gig listings next to grocery reminders on the fridge door. Yep, Plumhall the duo continue to gig relentlessly, gracing festival and club stages all over the country and at frequent intervals.

THUNDERCLOUD encapsulates some of that musical prowess in eleven songs, each treated to a fine arrangement and a rather good production job, courtesy of David Crickmore. From the opening song, from which the album takes its title, a song with Native American connotations, we immediately know that the production is going to be of a high standard throughout, which it is. The attention to detail on both voices, each one revealed as assured and confident, remains a focal point throughout the album. Nick's soulful falsetto on Let Me Sleep, featuring a guest appearance by Maggie Boyle on flute, is a revelation. It seems to open up the duo's sound to a new dimension. Nick and Michelle's credentials as fine songwriters has been confirmed and rewarded at the recent Yorkshire Gig Guide Grassroots Awards, where the duo picked up the award for Outstanding Song Writing. Evidence of this can be found in these songs, all of which are self-penned with the exception of Boff Whalley's Country-tinged Learning How to Talk. A fine debut to check out.
Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky
Radio Play: Thundercloud (Show 334/21.07.14)
Release Date: 01.09.14
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