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Heidi Talbot - In Love and Light (Navigator)
No stranger to those remotely familiar with Cherish the Ladies, Heidi Talbot brings forth her own unique voice with this, her follow up to 2004's DISTANT FUTURE. Delicately produced by Boo Hewerdine IN LOVE AND LIGHT is the perfect title for this selection of lovely and light songs. The occasional County Kildare inflections, especially on her gorgeous reading of Tom Waits' Time, leaves the listener in no doubt as to what part of the world this young singer hails from.
With contributions from the likes of Eddi Reader, John Doyle, John McCusker and Michael McGoldrick, as well as Mr Hewerdine popping in from behind the mixing desk, IN LOVE AND LIGHT showcases Heidi Talbot's rich vocal delivery and it is with this voice that our attention is held throughout.
There are moments of familiarity here that will no doubt fall well within the confines of Talbot's canon. Bedlam Boys and Glenlogie bear all the hallmarks of a modern folk arrangement; interesting time signatures and crystal clear interplay between strings and whistle. But on this collection of songs, Talbot broadens her scope and tackles other melodic areas with relative ease. Invisible conjures up the same distinct feeling of Fifties pop as John Lennon applied to (Just Like) Starting Over way back in another era. It's the essence of the smoochie dance floor hit but without forcing it or being a pastiche of it.
Whilst Boo Hewerdine's Everything borrows from Joni's Woodstock, bringing with it a joyous celebration of everything we are and basically answering some of the questions posed by the high priestess of hippie ponderings almost forty years on, Whispering Grass is whimsically revisited in much the same manner as Sandy Denny's classic rendition on her 1974 LIKE AN OLD FASHIONED WALTZ album, rather than following the Ink Spots original template. Isn't it a shame that this beautiful song will forever be associated with two sweaty men in khaki shorts and pith helmets!
Duetting with Talbot on The Blackest Crow is Kris Drever, who offers a second voice to the album and which is very much welcomed, alternating between verses and culminating in a final verse in unison. You tend to be left wanting more of the same.
My only minor niggle with Heidi's second album has nothing to do with the music itself, but with the artwork and in particular the miniscule white text on a red ground. The extinction of vinyl albums forced us into using a magnifying glass to gain information, which is not normally readily available on the bus back from the record store. IN LOVE AND LIGHT requires a microscope. Be prepared to squint.