JUDY FAIRBAIRNS – Edge Of The Wild (Wild Biscuit WBM008)

Edge Of The WiildA published writer and artist, Fairbairns now adds singer-songwriter to the CV with this collection of songs exploring her life on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides and inspired by her 2013 memoir Island Wife : Living On The Edge Of The Wild.

Produced by Wild Biscuit and with only John Saich credited for instrumentations, it is, as you might imagine, a laid back, soft focus affair with softly, at times breathily, sung introspective, reflective and dreamy lyrics, opening with the call of home-themed slow waltz ‘I Have Sailed The Seas’ where she sounds a little like Judy Collins and includes a brief snatch of spoken word.

Built around piano, ‘Luna’ sketches a ‘wild-eyed child’ who wants more than seems to be her lot in life and who “if she could speak she’d tell you things you never heard before”, the musical palette broadening with drums, piano (clavinet perhaps?) and guitar and oohing backing vocals for the feminine statement ‘Kindness Is A Woman’ where she sings how she “can live anyway I choose”. Things get a touch ethereal and trip hop with the scratchy beats of ‘We Made The Rain’ which seems to be part Portishead, part Peter Gabriel and part Judie Tzuke, but then it’s back to a sparse piano and strings for the time marches on the self-contemplation of ‘Who Are You’ which has the air of some Rogers & Hammerstein show tune ballad.

Double tracking the vocals and accompanied by scuffed drums and guitars, perhaps the most musically Scottish-flavoured, the bittersweet ‘I Hold The Line’ is another song of reflection on a life lived and things and people moving on, again with imagery of spreading wings. Then, it’s into the final stretch with the piano (and strings flourishes) accompanied, echoey sung ‘Girl On A Train’, another song about life in motion, shimmery synths cascading across the chorus, the collection ending with, first, ‘When She Said That Thing’, a song of fracturing (“go easy on my heart”) and letting go with a quiet folksy tone etched out on a minimal piano pattern (I was oddly put in mind of Procol Harum at times) that gathers a temperate percussive beat as it develops. And, finally, comes the electric piano notes of ‘Sometimes I Feel Beautiful’, again conjuring early Judy Collins thoughts filtered perhaps by a softer, more hushed Sandy Denny, a song looking ahead to as yet unknown futures and promises, whispered on the breeze, through the trees, but also caught in memories of those no longer part of their life, the closing line about asking for more linking back to ‘Luna’.

One to be listened to in the quieter moments, allowing the music and her gentle voice to gather you into their embrace and join her where the wild things are.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.facebook.com/JudyFairbairns https://judyfairbairns.co.uk/

‘Who Are You’: