LinenIt’s not usual for an artist to release a debut album in their sixth decade but Carol Fieldhouse has done just that with Linen. Not that she’s a newbie to the business: she’s a specialist in early music and leader of folk trio Cenote but this is her first album as a solo singer-songwriter. It was produced by Boo Hewerdine who seems to be making a habit of finding new talent to nurture.

Carol has an MA in songwriting but even without knowing that you’d label her as a poet. Three of the songs are co-writes and there is one cover. At her best, Carol can raise a smile or a nod of recognition: the superb opener, ‘A Little Piece Of Land’, is about that peaceful place that we all need. “No mobile phones, a broadband ‘no go’” is one of the choruses while the title track, ‘Linen’, is primly suggestive: “I’m wearing linen now, less crisply pressed/But underneath, well who knows” is the closing couplet, and of course it’s about dancing.

For me, Carol’s up-tempo songs are her strongest. ‘Billy Marshall’ is straight out of the folk tradition – the story of a seventeenth century king of the gypsies – and ‘Residue’ could be full of pain were it not so defiant. These things are in the past, she is saying, let them remain so. Linen is very much guitar driven with Hewerdine and Neill MacColl supporting Carol’s playing and MacColl also plays mandolin and it is his decorations that make the record what it is. The exception is the cover with Jim Watson’s solo piano as Carol sings ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’. It feels like an odd choice but I’m not a Beatles fan so maybe that’s just me. Like most poetry, Linen will repay the attention you give it.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website:

‘The Wave’ – live with Cenote: