REBECCA PRONSKY – Witness: Hillary’s Song Cycle (own label)

HillaryWell, here’s an unusual one. Written in response to last year’s Presidential Election upset in America, Pronsky has, joined by all-female musicians, devised an eight track concept album based around Hillary Clinton’s mindset in the days following her defeat and taking a journey from  disbelief to depression, rage to grief, and acceptance to hope.

It opens, however, on a seemingly upbeat note, Jackie Coleman’s trumpet flourishing on ‘Things Never Change’, a jaunty Broadway show tune-like number with Hillary waking up in her big white house envisaging everything going well only to realise it’s all a dream.

The mood then understandably changes for the dejection piano ballad in a Tori Amos vein ‘Why Do I Try’, essentially a lament for the way women are ignored or taken for granted, then it’s on to the strummed rhythm chug ‘Walk In The Woods’ as she takes one of her infamous strolls to clear her mind. A suitably musically heavier mood descends with ‘On The Edge’, a reflection on a fight for a victory that never came, Heather Wagner’s military drum beat shrouded by Deirdre Rodman Struck’s resonant piano chords and with echoes of traditional folk as she finds resolution to overcome defeat.

A soulful note is struck with the intro to ‘Forgotten’, piano notes recalling Nina Simone’s ‘I Put A Spell On You’ interspersed with a jaunty brass-driven melody line that again suggests a Broadway production. Vaudeville colours are to the fore with the equally bouncy piano-based ‘What Is Power’ (surely Barbra Streisand musicals are an influence here) spliced with a reprise of ‘Things Never Change’ as she laments how she works hard but nothing’s ever good enough, Viva DeConcini taking a snarly blues guitar solo as it heads to the end.

‘Two Hawked Lions’ is a brief Spaghetti Western-like atmospheric instrumental bridge before it closes on the title track, a pick yourself up and carry on defiant piano power ballad that refuses to give in, give up and get out of the game as it gathers to a rousing finale. It would be useful if the lyrics were available on the dedicated website, but this is undeniably an interesting addition to her repertoire, albeit with something of a niche audience. Can’t imagine anyone doing the same for Theresa May.

Mike Davies

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