I’ve been listening to Amy Goddard almost since she appeared on the music scene. I admire the narrative skill of her songwriting and her love of the late John Stewart both of which are apparent here. I was almost surprised to realise that Rise is her fifth album but I think it could be the one that moves her from the “known and respected” category to fully-fledged stardom.
The record opens with the mighty ‘Make Your Mark’, a song about prisoners of conscience – they could be anywhere in the world – told through the story of one man holding out against the psychological pressure being applied to him. It is adorned with a powerful guitar solo by Jon Lewis, Todd Kuzma on drums and Hannah Fisher’s fiddle and is worth the price of the CD by itself. The mood immediately changes with the single, ‘Cornish Mist’ with Brian Kutscher on cellotron and Odette Michell and Zoe Wren providing backing vocals. It could happily be played solo on acoustic guitar but the accompaniment gives Amy’s voice something to work with and, make no mistake, it is a marvellous voice.
‘This Old House’, based on her childhood home, continues in the same style but for Julie Mathews’ ‘Hope Springs’ Amy pares the song back to solo acoustic guitar and her own multi-tracked vocals. Amy is also a respected luthier and can play what she can build. ‘The Beast Of The Cut’ is loosely based on a story Amy heard from her junior school teacher and Ross Ainslie’s whistle and Jamie Jordan’s bodhran gives it an Irish feeling. Oddly, the tune is slightly reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s ‘North Country Blues’.
The first of Stewart’s songs is ‘Odin’, subtitled ‘Spirit Of The Water’, an oddly supernatural song with the band giving it just enough rock’n’roll. It could be the basis of a film but Stewart doesn’t tell us exactly what happened in the middle – perhaps leaving it to our imagination was the better plan. ‘The Waiting Game’, ‘The Flow’ and ‘Golden Joy’ all come from incidents in Amy’s life – the sort of incidents that only a real songwriter can transform. The second Stewart song is ‘Hunters Of The Sun’, a distant cousin of ‘With God On Our Side’. It is given a driving, pounding beat by Kuzma and features Amy’s father, Alan Whitby, on backing vocals. It is a brilliant song.
Finally, and perhaps inevitably, ‘Rise Anew’ is Amy’s lockdown song. Whatever happens to us humans the rest of nature will continue almost unaffected and Amy’s optimism that we will rise anew is borne out by this album. Her best? Could be.
Artist’s website: www.amygoddardmusic.co.uk
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