When I first played Roseanna Ball’s debut solo album since Roholio was put into abeyance and heard the sound of a ukulele I thought that it might not be for me. Then I thought that it might be a mandolin and felt better. Roseanna has been getting good press for this record and it required further attention. To call her a singer-songwriter is to damn her with faint praise. She is that but also a remarkable multi-instrumentalist capable of producing complex arrangements and playing every note of them. She has a powerful voice – the sort that I sometimes despair of hearing again – and an intriguing way with lyrics.
In fact, even after several plays, I’m still puzzling over some of Roseanne’s ideas. The title track seems to be fairly straightforward story of a failed relationship, albeit wrapped in layers of imagery. ‘The Thatcher’ is a portrait of a man but not painted in a photo-realistic style, more cubist, perhaps. ‘Pompeii Lovers’ initially seems to be a metaphor but then it appears to be literal with the album’s only other contributor, Neville Pope, taking the second lead vocal. Then you think that the literalism conceals the metaphor after all. ‘Down In The Depths’ is a lament for the lost coal industry given a stark accompaniment and ‘By The Clan’ reads like a search for personal and family history – or perhaps the history of a place. I confess that ‘The Beseecher’ still has me mystified – great song, though.
Musically, Roseanne covers a lot of ground. There’s the ukulele/mandolin and guitars, of course, whistle, what I believe is an Appalachian dulcimer but might be mandolin again. There is electric piano, a simple accompaniment on ‘Too Soon’, violin or viola and banjo and all through the record are moments that grab the attention. You need to take your time over Time.
Artist’s website: http://www.roseannaball.com/
‘The Thatcher’ live:
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