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Kate Dimbleby - Songbirds (Folkstock Records)

Bristol-based Kate Dimbleby, daughter of broadcaster David Dimbleby, has carved out a niche for herself in the genre of layered vocal pyrotechnics, inspired by those of Bobby McFerrin after studying with him in New York. Experimental throughout, SONGBIRDS features eleven songs, each showcasing Kate's vocal inventiveness, creating close harmonies through the medium of the vocal looper pedal. All the voices are hers, whether sung in scat form or in more coherent lyrical song. There's a cupful of The Roches in some of its quirkiness, a shot of The McGarrigles in some of the more tender moments, together with a teaspoonful of Laurie Anderson in the slightly challenging Happy. Occasionally there's a sense that Kate is experimenting even during the performances here, bringing the meandering closing verse of Whatever to its conclusion with "That's about enough of that!" There's no doubting Kate Dimbleby has a very good and soulful singing voice, These Things They Will Come is proof of that. Above all though, SONGBIRDS is a celebration of the human voice and some of what it is capable of, something the Dimbleby family are only too familiar with.  Like Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells though, where the musician plays every instrument except the drums and a bit of flute, therefore making the claim for an entirely solo effort void, Kate concludes an almost totally a cappella album with a few field recordings and assorted electronica on the closing track Song for a Hill. So, an almost totally a cappella album then. Produced by the young Lauren Deakin Davies for Folkstock Records, SONGBIRDS has every likelihood of taking you by surprise as it did I.  

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky