O’HOOLEY & TIDOW – The Fragile – NO MASTERS NMCD39

After their stunning debut, Silent June, expectations were high for Belinda and Heidi’s second album and they haven’t let us down. Facebook fans have followed the progress of the record and already heard the single, ‘The Last Polar Bear’, a song that works as a plea for ecological sanity and as a metaphor for unrequited love.

Where their debut opened with the complex ‘Flight Of The Petrel’ which made you pay attention lest the album get away from you, The Fragile delivers a more earthy clip round the ear with ‘The Tallest Tree’ with the bass end of Belinda’s piano embellished by Cormac Byrne’s percussion
and makes you pay attention. For all its beauty this is a much more down to earth album in the stories it tells in the original songs. There’s the sexually ambiguous ‘Gentleman Jack’ who is actually called Anne Lister; ‘Ronnie’s Song’ about a down-and-out who loved musicals and ‘A Daytrip’ in which I see my northern grandparents in fine detail.

Brought in from outside are Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’; ‘Little Boy Blue’ from a poem by Eugene Field and the traditional ‘She Lived Beside The Anner’. There are a small number of guests used with restraint although the string section is given free rein. Elsewhere Anna Esslemont, Sam Pegg and Andy Cutting contribute instrumental textures and Jackie Oates adds vocals to ‘Madgie In The Summerlands’ but The Fragile is really about Belinda and Heidi. The confidence, power and earthiness of their voices both solo and in harmony are what shine through this excellent album.

Dai Jeffries

Artist Web link: www.nomasters.co.uk


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