DAPHNE’S FLIGHT – On Arrival (Fat Cat Records FATCD043)

On ArrivalThere’s an earthiness about Daphne’s Flight’s third studio album, On Arrival, that I really like. All the songs are written or co-written by the five members of the group adding to the feeling of realism.

The set opens with Helen Watson’s ‘Turn The Microphones Off’ and you can read a lot into it. Is it a plea for silence in an increasingly noisy world or a demand for the cessation of inane chatter on social media? Here in lockdown world the silence is blissful and we do have control over the sounds to which we are subjected. I was drawing comparisons between Daphne’s Flight and Plainsong even before Julie Matthews’ ‘Be Amelia’ began but this song uses Earhart and others like her as an inspiration, a rôle model for young women everywhere.

On Arrival moves up a gear with Christine Collister’s ‘You Got Me Going’, a rolling blues outing driven by Matthews’ piano that builds up until Chris reaches that final Joplinesque top note. Phew! Melanie Harrold’s ‘Rogue Rider’ provides the album’s title. It’s a gentle, meditative song built on Dave Bowie Jr’s double bass and the gorgeous massed chorus. Chris While wrote ‘Saturday With Mr Rameer’ with Charlie Dore and before you get the wrong idea it’s a happy song about learning ballroom dancing.

Helen enlisted the aid of Howard Lees for the trip back in time that is ‘You’ll Never Go Away’. The song looks back to a bittersweet episode that has the ring of truth about it – enough to make anybody look back to the heady days of the 60s.’Hard To Be The Way’ first appeared on Chris and Julie’s debut album while Christine’s ‘So Brave’ was finally completed on the eve of recording. Melanie’s ‘This Woman Today’ is another rallying call to women and Julie finally gets political with ‘That’s Just Life Around Here’ a cracker to end the show with.

The comparisons with Plainsong are not fanciful. Both groups rely on their harmonies, their own instrumentation and mostly their own songwriting and both came together and separated over the years. I think that On Arrival is Daphne’s finest work and it is such a shame that the current situation prevents them from getting up on stage and being glorious.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: www.daphnesflight.com

‘That’s Just Life Around Here’ – official video: