SHARON LAZIBYRD – Half Shame And Half Glory (Trampoline TRL002)

Half Shame And Half GlorySharon Lazibyrd first came to my attention in 2013, disappeared for a while and returned with her single, ‘Opium Of The Masses’. It felt at first like a rail against consumerism but the more you listen, the deeper it seems to go. Like many of her songs it makes you think as you unpick her poetry. It’s also the second track on her debut solo album, Half Shame And Half Glory. Sharon Martin emerged from Lazibyrd, a duo with Tom Chapman who released their only album, Under The Sky, five years ago, hence her nom de plume. She writes, sings and plays ukulele, violin and viola and when I reviewed Under The Sky I described her as “misanthropic, sociopathic, paranoid and despairing for the fate of humanity” – just my sort of person, in fact. I think she has mellowed a little since then.

The opening track, ‘Mr Smilie’ is particularly intriguing and typical of Sharon’s more enigmatic style. There are enough clues to tell us that it’s a true story about a clockmaker but not enough to reveal the whole story and I’ve spent far too long scouring the interweb without success. There is something innocently sexy about the title track and I unreservedly apologise to Sharon if that isn’t what she intended but I still like the song.

It’s back to politics with ‘More For Less’ melded with a tune, ‘Good Friday’. Like all the songs it’s cleverly crafted; in this case with pizzicato violin, accordion and percussion. ‘Winding Road’, with Stan Martin’s piano is, I think, a mother talking to her child but it could be something else. From there we move to the bouncy, reggae rhythm of ‘Don’t Worry’. With accordion and trumpet it has all the hallmarks of a radio hit – if it ever gets airplay.

I’m still unravelling ‘What Time Is Later’; it could be a philosophical statement or a love song and I’m sure that ‘Blood On Bone’ is in the latter category. It’s nice to hear Damian Clarke’s hammered dulcimer again. ‘And They Danced’ employs Latin rhythms and until the end it is love story – but then there is a twist. I’m guessing it’s based on a myth but once again Sharon doesn’t give us quite enough information to pin it down. It’s clever songwriting but damned infuriating.

Welcome back, Sharon. Half Shame And Half Glory is an album I really like: unconventional, quirky even, but with plenty to draw you back to puzzle out another line or two.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘What Time Is Later?’ – official video: