mike davies june 2014

michelle

Her much anticipated second album due for release in December, soul star MICHELLE LAWRENCE provides an early online taster(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIjkmZISJUo&feature=em-upload_owner#action=share) with Ain’t Gonna Rain, a self penned, gospel tinged mid tempo piano ballad that again showcases a voice that, in a just society, would see her proclaimed as Birmingham’s answer to Leona Lewis.

louise petit

Following on from two studio EPs and the live house gig release. Make A House A Home, Staffordshire-based LOUISE PETIT finally unleashes her debut album, Louder Than Your Drum via Bandcamp in both CD and download versions on June 14th. Now working as an acoustic trio featuring percussion and double bass, her songs centering around tales of the heart, she roams between limpidly beautiful airy folk pop (Tree Song, Knots Inside) and the feel of classic Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter pop (Plastic and Glue, the slow waltzing title track) with hints of Appalachia along the way.

I’ve previously noted a touch of Fairground Attraction to her music, and that holds true here on the Happy Man catchy strummed foot stomp pop, the shuffling Home and the uke backed slow sway Damn This Part Of Me, but while you can throw comparisons around, Petit blends her influences into her own style and sound, an emphasis on the sort of soaring, infectious melodies that add golden lustre to summer days.

There’s gorgeous use of harmonies on Away With the Day, a song that simply fills you with unbridled joy with both its lyrics of finding love (“my lips are stolen, they’ve been sealed, they’ve been silenced but finally now they have spoken”) and the cascading melody line while, backed by a brushed snare march beat and coloured by strings and handclaps, the Weight Of The World is swooningly, swayingly lovely with its upbeat message in the face of life’s burdens.

The album closes on a triple knockout that begins with the steadily strummed, gradually building Never To Return, background indistinct arguing voices and a gunshot in the intro, her soaring voice perfectly poised and stained with world weary resignation. It’s followed by To The Sharks, a simple mid-tempo, violin accompanied, close harmony ballad about a sinking relationship that features the brilliant line ‘do you want the life raft or the sharks’ that builds to a towering crescendo before finally closing out on the friskily playful take a risk on me Safe And Sound, complete with ah oohing doo wop backing vocals, chugging guitar.

She may not have the publicity machine behind her, but there’s a steadily building word of mouth that will hopefully catch the ears of those in print, online and on the airwaves (the album is a gift to Radio 2) who will foster public awareness that this truly is one of the year’s finest debut albums and an artist with whom to build a lifetime’s relationship.

jo hamilton

Although a special edition appeared in 2011, it’s been five years since the release of Gown, the critically acclaimed debut album by JO HAMILTON. During that time, she could be heard as part of Ashley Hutchings’ Rainbow Chasers, but this year finally sees the arrival of her long awaited second album Fractals. Again produced by Jon Cotton, an early taster was posted on her site (http://news.johamilton.com) with a video for Think Of Me, a spine-tinglingly beautiful, heavenly ballad sung in a hymnal whisper. The album’s being launched with a live visual spectacular, Fractal Sparks, at Durham Cathedral in July, a multi-media event featuring songs from both the new album and Gown with live brass and elemental ‘force of nature’ full-height visual effects, exploring visual metaphors of the new album’s theme that our lives continually repeat.

roots-and-branches.com 2016