Amy Goddard has been feeding me singles from Secret Garden for a couple of months now so I’m familiar with three of these songs, although it is true that they sound different in the context of a complete album.
The record begins in Amy’s typical style: optimistic songs accompanied by the bright tone of her steel strung acoustic guitar. The opener, ‘Words Of Sweet Music’ even features her bass playing while Jonathan Lewis provides lead guitar – Amy could almost certainly play that part herself but it’s nice to have someone to lean on sometimes. ‘Alright Again’ is the first of those single tracks – a song about depression, or rather reaching out beyond it – and that is followed by the title track, a piece of pastoral wimsy.
‘Gladdie’ was the first single. It is the story of Amy’s great-grandmother whose intended was lost in France and is the sort of song that Amy should concentrate on – a simple, poignant story beautifully told but with a real edge. She essays the same feeling on ‘Miner’s Lullaby’ but it isn’t her song, it’s Utah Phillips’, and the difference is clear. I have no problem with her performance of a great song but I bet she could find an equally harrowing story to write about from closer to home. She found a good story in Perthshire to turn into ‘The Maiden’s Leap’, an interesting twist on the usual night visiting story.
I particularly like ‘Rhythm Of The Road’ which really shows off Amy’s guitar work. It’s a song that she says has been a work in progress for several years and it has a different vibe from the songs she’s currently writing. Her setting of Alfred Noyes’ ‘The Highwayman’ is nicely creepy – it really is a nasty tale – and the second cover, Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark, is transferred from the streets of Jersey and given a very English style.
Amy has made another fine album with Secret Garden but for me it lacks something of the intensity that made Burn & Glow such an excellent debut.
Artist’s website: www.amygoddardmusic.co.uk
A selection from the album preview concert: