Tuesday, 15 March 2016

AMY DUNCAN

CD Review

Undercurrents


Amy Duncan has an incredibly soothing style of singing which has a remarkably calming effect as you listen and the opener The Good Life, is a perfect example.

Scottish singer/songwriter Amy Duncan
There is almost a childlike simplicity and innocence to her style which is close to ethereal. This is not to say it's in anyway naive or immature. Scot Duncan has a full range to her singing and carries a real depth of emotion in how she executes her creations as you can see from the message of taking risks in life in her first track.
Fragile From The Storm is another gentle ballad where at time she could easily be mistaken for Sinead O'Connor as she reaches up to hit the high notes before dipping down again for the deeper thoughtful strands. The following track keeps the same pace as the previous two and that is perhaps the only downside to this album is its lack of variety in pace and style. Duncan does what she does very well but there are no real thumping ones, fast tracks or lighter toe-tapping tracks. With No Harvest there is a rock style insert but it is never really given any space.
With Different Dimensions there is a slightly stronger beat for what is a more commercially sounding track which sounds like something reminiscent of Delores O'Riordan. There is without doubt an eclectic mix of sounds on this track which gives it a slightly chaotic feeling.
Complicated Human does give you a perfect example of just how smooth and flowing Duncan's style of singing is. It's a nice easy tune which is carried along by a pleasing but gentle beat.
There is almost a retro feel about Lights In The House which has a touch of the Polyphonic Spree about it. You have to give it to Duncan with the combination of her striking voice and the musicians she has surrounded herself with,  which includes Fiona Rutherford, Liam Bradley, Sijie Chen and Jane Atkins, she does create a depth of sound and atmosphere which is almost tangible.
This is followed by a further ballad, All The Love, which gives the feel it is building up to something bigger but never quite delivers but once again it's Duncan's precise vocals which carry things along.
My Silver Net is a lovely haunting song in which you can tell Duncan invests a great deal of emotion and thoughtfulness. It does have overtones of Enya, having that otherworldly quality to it which makes it a real pleasure to listen to. This is followed by The Truth Never Changes which is another eclectic collection of sounds built around Duncan's gentle but definite singing. She seems to enjoy creating compositions which include a great many elements. The difficulty is always making sure they fit together as a whole and, it has to be said, Duncan has it down to pat and is more than ably abetted by producer Calum Malcolm.
Another gentle opening brings in Constant Without Me which again, like a snowball, rolls along collecting sounds and getting bigger until it reaches a point where she shakes them off and starts over.
The last track but one, To The Shadow, sees Duncan exercising her voice in the upper end of her range for what sounds more like a poem set to a tune rather than a bona fide song, but it's nonetheless enjoyable for that.
This is followed by the final and title track and is close to being the sister song to the opener. The song and rhythm does have a slightly disturbed pattern which matches the lyrics to take the album out.
Undercurrents is almost therapeutic and is one of those albums which is likely to touch the listener on a deeper level than first expected. The only criticism would be for Duncan to pick the pace up occasionally or vary the style to include a wider range of titles in her repertoire.

Undercurrents is available now through Duncan's own label Filly Records.

You can catch her live at the Bongo Club, Edinburgh on March 18. Doors open 7.30pm and tickets are £6 on the night and £5 in advance.