She doesn’t sound it but Julie Abbé is French and grew up in Poitou-Charentes, south of Roquefort and North of Bordeaux, which sounds like a good combination to me. She grew up with the Bal tradition but expanded her repertoire into swing, Latin jazz, blues and the English and Irish folk traditions. Having lived in the UK for two decades now she has recorded in all these styles but, as far as I can tell, Numberless Dreams is her first solo album.
Julie also has a thing for William Butler Yeats which is fine by me and she opens the album with her settings of two of his poems. The first is ‘A Poet To His Beloved’, which I don’t know well, and the second is ‘The Song Of Wandering Aengus’. Now, you know how it is when someone writes a new tune for a familiar song? I can honestly say that it was halfway through before I realised that this was something new, so well does Julie’s melody fit the words. It’s a simple but clever tune and I like it a lot.
The first traditional song is ‘Courting Is A Pleasure’ which Julie has extensively reworked as she has with ‘Flower Of Magherally’ here an unaccompanied duet with Amy Cox, ‘Fhir A Bhata’, ‘Kellswater’ and ‘Claudy Banks’ – very different from the familiar English song. I’d usually get a bit precious about this sort of thing but Julie does her work with such skill and sensitivity that I really don’t mind.
There is one original instrumental, ‘Flagstones’, which features co-producer Sid Goldsmith on concertina and Dominic Hooper’s cello. ‘Stolen Child’ uses music by Daniel Bloodstone for Yeats’ words and the final track is ‘He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven’, another set of words by the poet with music by Julie.
Numberless Dreams is an album of shifting moods from unaccompanied voices via solo acoustic guitar to the dark sounds of cello and double bass and I‘ve enjoyed it very much.
Artist’s website: www.julieabbe.com/
‘A Poet To His Beloved’ – official video: