Tuesday, 16 June 2015

ROSEANNA BALL

CD Review

Geography

Roseanna Ball has come through several incarnations, not least of which is Roholio, to where she has put together her first solo album and it's testimony to her talent she has written and performed every single track. 

Roseanna Ball
The multi-talented and multi-instrumentalist goes it totally alone for this album and there is no reason why she shouldn't, she has the singing, songwriting and instrumental skills to carry it off.
It opens with the North Devon singer's deepish voice leading into the head-bobbing rhythm of Mexican Girl. It's a very simple but effective song with just her voice and the throbbing percussion style strumming of her guitar and she keeps her rapid fire lyrics skipping over the top of it.
Ball keeps up pretty much the same pace for The Line but switches over to the mandolin for providing the tune. Ball doesn't have the most powerful of voices but there is definite and raw emotion in how she sings. In this track she uses her voice as much to accent her constant strumming as she does to get the lyrics about the loss of traditional trades across. The first slow and mellow song comes with Widemouth Bay which is a migration song. The gentleness of her guitar strumming, which is occasionally broken by a change of pace, matches perfectly her thoughtful and sixties-style singing which does remind a little of Simon & Garfunkel's America.
Ball's title song shows off her verbal dexterity with her racing lyrics, and the gentle banjo playing underneath it really is a treat to hear. It's the type of song which just sucks all the stress out of your life as you sink down into the tune like you would a hot bath.
Ball playing the dulcimer
Barefoot & Kissing is pushed along this time by her rapid mandolin playing and her muted singing still carries a passion which sounds a little like Linda Ronstadt. The more you listen to Ball the more you realise how precise her singing is. Not a word, phrase or pause is wasted or superfluous.
Another gentle ballad, I'll Stay, is a very understated song with the gentle undulating sound of her guitar keeping a low profile under her singing which is very close to a poetry reading rather than actually vocals. This is followed by Swings & Roundabouts the opening of which really brings to mind McGuinness Flint's When I'm Dead and Gone. Here again Ball's singing runs like a spring hare, her voice does fall a little short on the high notes but this track is as much about the mandolin playing as it is about the singing.
Ball's new solo album
There is another change of pace for At The Bottom and this is where Ball's voice is dripping with emotion and the guitar underneath reminds of the fantastic Dire Straits' Romeo & Juliet. Ball's voice has a slight tremor this time giving it the quality of Judy Collins and producing a really pleasant tune, the sort of song which is perfect for a summer's day. Ball moves back up into top gear with the mandolin which has the guitar adding a Spanish sounding rapid beat underneath as she relates the story of a shipwreck. Ball goes out at the opposite end to the start with a gentle ballad, With You, where her voice takes on a real vulnerable tone, much softer than previous tracks and once again the precise guitar picking adds the little bursts of colour to the track.
Geography is an album of which Ball can be proud. As the solo performer, who is more used to working in partnerships or bands, she holds her own perfectly and the result is an album where she has written and performed all the tracks and which carries enough emotion for you to connect with and the right amount of excellent string work to keep your feet tapping.

Geography is out now and available for download through itunes Googleplay or Amazon. You can catch Ball at Warwick Folk Festival, Warwickshire on Saturday July 25.