Tuesday 29 September 2015


CD Review

I Dreamt I Was A Bird

A saying is attributed to St Jerome which is "Sometimes the truth causes offence, better the offence be caused than the truth suppressed." This could be the maxim of Derbyshire singer/songwriter Lucy Ward.

Lucy Ward
Her new studio album, the first on her own Betty Beetroot label, is fairly intense, it pulls few punches and carries such emotion in her singing and music it could almost be a therapy session rather than an album.
Listening to the tracks you become aware Ward knows how to vocalise her thoughts and the musings of her psyche perfectly, meticulously and with the edge of a surgical blade.
It opens with the haunting Summers That We Made. Ward's voice sounds more like she is reading a bedtime story rather than simply singing. Her voice is so gentle and evocative, the descriptiveness of her words will paint pictures in the dullest of minds. Underneath are the unobtrusive strings which highlight the lyrics perfectly. There is more than a touch of the silky tones of Sade in her voice as she almost lazily opens up Ode To Whittaker Brown, inspired by her mother's birth in a Nissen hut after her family were made homeless in the Second World War. The Nativity analogies are obvious and make a fascinating juxtaposition between the two periods. There is something brooding and foreboding about the way Creatures and Demons comes towards you and there is genuine righteous anger in her voice as she sings about the inequalities of society, something far more folk singers should be doing. Ward's arrangement of the traditional Lord Randall is atmospheric, fresh, sultry and the way she sings is it disturbingly sensual.
Shot At Dawn memorial
You almost feel uncomfortable listening to it in case your mother or spouse walks in and catches you. It definitely has an allusion to the punk era with Sam Pegg giving it something akin to Wild Willy Barrett accompanying John Otway.
If you can listen to Lion and not have your emotions stirred there is something wrong. Right from the opening bar with the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band you know this is a story of military tragedy. Inspired by a name Ward saw on the Shot At Dawn tribute at the National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas she captures the outrage and injustice of the events while at the same time keeping the reverence and respect the fallen deserve. This is a song which should have a place at the Festival of Remembrance. Eerily enough, on Song For Lola, there are times when Ward sounds a lot like the angel-voiced Katie Melua. Whether Ward intended it or not this is a very emotionally and sexually ambiguous song and like most art forms is open to interpretation. However, she does in her musings manage to keep it innocent sounding, with just a little hint of maybe... . Ward has her storytelling voice in full flow again for Daniel and the Mermaid for what is claimed to be a true tale of her great-great uncle who reportedly caught a mermaid off the isle of Mull.Whether it's veracity can be upheld or not doesn't really matter. Ward creates a whole world with her voice with the ethereal instrumental sounds underneath her singing, so much so you dearly want it to be true. The opening lyrics to Connie and Bud are so concise, so perfect they tell the whole story in two lines "Connie and bud live in a car, a car they don't own." with just these two lines you feel you already know the couple. That's when you realise, once you have listened this far in, Ward has got under your skin, siren-like she has drawn you into her world from which there is an easy escape but little will to leave it.
The album goes out on Return to Earth inspired by Titterstone Clee in Shropshire which is the site of a bronze age burial ground. Through the importance of this site Ward extrapolates to widen the care and preservation the place requires to the planet itself.
What this album shows is Ward is at the very least original both in her approach and execution and at the most a songstress who can get to the heart of some serious and deep matters without being preachy or patronising.
You will have to travel far and wide to find an album with more atmospheric depth than I Dreamt I Was A Bird.

I Dreamt I Was A Bird is released on October 2 on Betty Beetroot Records.

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