CD ReviewFirst of all I would like to apologise to everyone for the gap in posts and delay in writing reviews. I have been in the convoluted process not just of moving house but moving country. I am now working from Williamstown, Galway, Eire. Over the last few months I have been dealing with solicitors, moving firms, estate agents and banks on both side of the Irish sea, some of which moved more quickly than others. On top of this I have been living out of boxes and trying to keep two cats, stressed out by house hopping between very kind and understanding family members and long journeys in their carriers, from going stir crazy.
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Roseanna Ball makes an understated start to what turns out to be an incredibly laudable and extremely personal follow up to her Geography album.
Straight away Ball shows the range she can carry with her singing. The beat deepens and her voice becomes strong and more emotive to build an impressive opening track and set the bar quite high for the rest of the album.
This album is a very personal journey for Ball, the title coming from the singer realising it was Time to slay some of her demons and lay herself open in song and music. There is no two ways about it you can feel the emotion as a tangible force in many of the tracks.
With Thatcher the strong thrumming rhythm of the guitar is matched by Ball's bluesy style singing which has more than a hint of Tracy Chapman about it.
Pompeii Lovers sets the rhythm with the mandolin which continues underneath Ball's voice but somehow it never really sounds comfortable however, that seems to add to the effect. There is a rawness to her singing on this track which perfectly conveys the emotion she is trying to express.
The following track, Down In The Depths, is inspired by the Thatcher years, specifically The Miners' Strike and, more personally, the knock-on effect which hit Ball's family.
Chords are kept simple on this song with Ball almost spitting out the lyrics which are what make this song notable. The words are very powerful and once again you can feel the passion she fires into every word.
In great contrast, you have the gentle keyboard opening of Too Soon. Here Ball shows a completely different side to her singing and exposes herself with this song about losing her father. She produces that clear and breathy singing which is very similar to Daria Kulesh, it would be something to hear them duet.
|Ball in concert|
Bullseye is another song which has come right from the heart for Ball. It's very simple but effective as a ballad and executed with her usual precision so not a single note or word is wasted.
The following track comes across as something of a contradiction between the lyrics and the tune. The tune is quite fast paced and almost dancing light, yet the words are about betrayal, infidelity and Ball being in the awkward position in middle with her knowledge of the tryst. There is almost an impatience as she sends out the message of "tell her what she needs to hear tonight".
Remarkably, Hold Tight was scribbled in the dark on a ship, with Ball setting herself the unenviable task of deciphering the lyrics about slavery after her channel crossing. There isn't really a coherence between the singing and the banjo playing underneath her voice, both of which are extremely good, but it does have the feel of two separate entities pushed together. It is one of those songs which Ball could have song A Capella and it would have been just as enjoyable.
|The new album|
Time ends rather appropriately with Out which is a seriously strong ballad which exemplifies Ball's real skill of being able to take the simplest of elements and turn them into something special and distinctive.
You always get the feeling there is plenty in reserve with Ball, and while this may be a very personal venture which may be closing some painful doors it's pretty certain there's a lot more to come.
Perhaps she is reserving it for her next album which can't come soon enough.
Time is available now from the artist's website and through download from iTunes, googleplay and Amazon.
You can catch her on Friday April 1 at the Woodman Folk Club, Kingswinford, West Midlands, then on April 3 at Springfest 2016, Loch Lomond Shores, Balloch, on April 6 she is supporting Brac N File at Edinburgh Folk Club, Edinburgh and then on April 10 she is at The Convent, Stroud, Gloucestershire.