KIRSTY McGEE & THE HOBOPOP COLLECTIVE – The Deafening Sound Of Stars (HoboPop HPCD0012)

The Deafening Sound Of StarsKirsty McGee is something of a veteran now but she has operated under many people’s radar including, sad to say, mine over the last few years. The Deafening Sound Of Stars is only her eighth album in almost twenty years, so as the owner of five of them maybe I’m not doing too badly. Hobopop is Kirsty’s concept: music without frontiers; neither geographical nor cultural. So while most of this album was recorded in Leeds, some parts were recorded in California and others in Brazil. The result is a heady blend of styles and influences.

The opening track, ‘Moving On’, is a gently rolling country number – Kirsty has long had an affinity with Americana – decorated by Clive Mellor’s harmonica. Kirsty has a collective of ten musicians behind her and this song is based around Barkley McKay’s lap steel and Hammond. The second track is sophisticated lounge jazz featuring Nick Walters’ trumpet and there are still a dozen tracks to go. ‘Butterfly Pin’ is a bluesy jazz number and by this point in what was supposed to be my writing phase I just sat back to listen again.

Fortunately ‘Raven’s Eyes’ dragged me backed to work – I guess Anton Hunter is responsible for the strange sounds underpinning the song – and that comes just in time for my favourite song, ‘Copenhagen’ For Kirsty, this is a retro arrangement based on acoustic guitar with a glass harmonica in the mix but there are more delicate elements than I can enumerate before the track builds up to its big finish. From now on, The Deafening Sound Of Stars takes on a subtly different mood with ‘Second Tuesday’ and the bluesy Americana of ‘Highway Dog Rose’.

And so it goes. The Deafening Sound Of Stars is a splendid album that I’d rather listen to than have to write about. Jazz, blues, folk and smart lyrics are all here – and if those lyrics were printed just a bit larger on the cover it would be perfect.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: www.kirstymcgee.com

‘Madness & The Moon’ – official video: