Sunday, 10 August 2014

JANE ALLISON

CD Review

Just Another Girl

If you want a family-sized slice of Americana with a side order of Americana and Americana fries then the opening track of Just Another Girl from Welsh actress Jane Allison should be right up your street.

Jane Allison
However, if you think this is going to colour all the album then you are in for a disappointment.
It has to be said that, generally, moving from being an actor or actress to being a singer/songwriter isn't always a good move.
However, TV and film star Allison may be among the exceptions, partly because she hasn't gone down the pop route, but has chosen to stick with the type of music she likes and that's the folk-Americana strand.
Allison has made a name for herself playing eccentric and slightly strange characters in hit shows such as Nighty Night, Hunderby and starred alongside Simon Pegg in A Fantastic Fear of Everything.
Much of this album was put together in Berlin where Allison was stationed three years ago and, from a somewhat isolated existence, came the tracks. From the opening of Hymn To Hope the album seems to have retro built into it which is not a bad thing providing it is done well, and it has to be said Allison does do it well.
It has that travelling beat to it and is a solid opener to what is a pretty good debut album. It has something of a feel of Bobbie Gentry so it is in good company from the start.
This gives way to Fading Moon which when you first hear it reminds you of the opening to Cher's Gypsies Tramp & Thieves.
It has that native American heartbeat throb to it. Allison has a good voice which isn't the strongest but has a fluidity that seems to blend into the music in a melodic symbiosis.
Even if you didn't know who she was, then listening to her sing the track you would know Allison has been influenced by Joan Baez.
You could nip back to the heady days of the 60s and tune in your radio, find this track and you wouldn't know it was from 50 years in the future.
Allison's debut album Just Another Girl
Catch Me is probably the least Americana track on the disc and does have an early 80s Pat Benatar feel to it.
The echoey  underpinning of the electric guitar also gives more than a nod to a soundtrack from a Quentin Tarantino film.
All Over Now2 opens with the atmospheric sound of the church organ.
It keeps that ethereal feeling as Allison's voice shows its strength for the first time and is more than a little akin to Chrissie Hynde at least on this occasion.
This is a really strong track and carries a lot of emotion both in the lyrics and the atmosphere created through the variety of instruments working underneath Allison's voice.
Joan of Arc has the feel of something from a play rather than an album track.
Allison's voice also seems muted and restrained where you are left waiting for the big build up and the crescendo which never comes.
The following track, Real Life, starts off quite mediocre but stick with it, it does get better. Allison's snappy lyrics pick up the pace and the song develops with a definite sixties feel to it.
By the time you get to Wait for Me the Americana theme is pretty much forgotten. It's a strong and almost a power ballad but never quite puts both feet in that camp.
The final track is perhaps the best one on the album and is a haunting song where Allison's melancholic tones are accentuated by the eerie, slightly staccato cadence of the lone piano holding up her torch song.
Farewell My Boy also gives a hint that Allison has some soul to her voice which until this track has been kept pretty much hidden.
One of the most commendable aspects of this album is Allison has not played the pop card making a light frothy commercially-sounding disc.
There is genuine thoughtfulness and emotion on this album and you get the sense Allison wants to be taken seriously as a singer/songwriter and not just be passed off as an actress who wants to widen her CV.
Just Another Girl is without doubt an excellent start but of course the acid test will be whether she perseveres with a second album regardless of how this one is received. Going by this first effort she should definitely be working on the next disc.
Just Another Girl is due for release on September 6 the debut single Hymn To Hope is available for download now













Other Links:
https://soundcloud.com/jane-allison


The Mike Harding Folk Show