Heidi Talbot’s new album Sing It For A Lifetime bleeds folk beauty, which strays beyond her Irish origin, her Edinburgh home and her long ago contribution to the great band Cherish The Ladies. And this music pulses with the universal O-type blood because it courses the veins of human heartbreak and blessed introspection that evolves into some sort of melodic resolution. Peter Gabriel (of Genesis and solo fame) once sang, “We got to get in to get out”. Indeed, this is that sort of record.
Cut to the quick: long time husband and collaborator John McCusker is gone. In his place is Americana guy Dirk Powell (He of the very great When I Wait For You album!) who injects, with fiddle, banjo, guitars, accordion, and keyboards, a country influence into bloodstream of this album.
But the Talbot/Powell composed ‘Sing It for A Lifetime’ simply floats on Heidi’s crystal-clear stream voiced melodic determination. The tune explodes with sweet energy. And it sets the tone for the rest of album that’s filled with a slow-danced thought of sadness and a confessional resurrection.
If I may, fast forward to Heidi’s cover of Bob Marley’s ‘She’s Gone’. Indeed, this is a sublime reading of the song, with a sympathetic electric guitar, just a hint of reggae, and the depth of a passionate candle defying extinction – which, again, is the ethos of this record. As Heidi says in her press release: “I wanted to make a totally different kind of record”. Ditto for the shuffle dance of a Fifties’ rendition of Boo Hewerdine’s ‘Let Your Eyes Get Used To The Dark’. This is wide-open Americana big cinema screen soundtrack with hopeful passion.
There’s Gothic folk element here, which, perhaps is a far cry from Heidi’s The Last Star album. Her cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ couches an Americana full autumnal moon vocal, as a graveyard eerie violin confesses the sinuous intent of the original tune. Then, the Talbot/Powell song ‘Broken Mirror’ barely breathes with sad and ghostly wisdom and cuts, once again, with a razor’s edge into raw emotions of an expected rainbow’s sad finish without any brilliant colour to be found.
As said, this is that sort of record.
The Dirk Powell composed tunes continue to point the compass to an American Nashville pulse. ‘Empty Promise Land’, with dual voices, is an intricate melodic conversation with the passion of (the great) Kasey Chambers and Shane Nickolson album, Rattlin’ Bones. Big complement, there! And, the same is true for prayer-voiced ‘Wandering Roads’, which touches gospel grace with a lovely piano, organ, and violin halo.
But the quintessential moment is the song ‘I Let You Go’, which certainly plays its passion on the very brink of the human heart’s electric hot circuit that threatens to trip with a broken soul. This song becomes intense art, like an Emily Dickinson poem, which ventured into deep imagination as she simply wrote, “I heard a fly buzz – when I died”.
The same is true for the immense cover of Michael Reid and Kye Fleming’s ‘There You Are’. Once again, this is a sepia photograph of a song with a gospel inflected soul.
The final two songs complete the journey. The Dolly Parton song ‘When The Possession Gets Too Strong’ is an up-temp country tune that urges new dance steps into an uncertain future. Then, ‘Bring Me Home’ is the acoustically quiet voiced final glance at a votive candle lit in the moment of despair that morphs with blessed introspection and evolves into some sort of melodic resolution.
As said, this album bleeds folk beauty. And it hears (to quote Emily Dickinson once again!) “Between the Heaves of the Storm” that sad “fly buzz”, in “The stillness in the Room” when “the Windows failed”. But, thankfully, Sing It For A Lifetime also exudes Emily D’s sweet oddly juxtaposed energy in her words, “Exultation is the going”, and “Hope”, indeed, “is the thing with feathers”.
Truly, this is that sort of record.
Artist’s website: https://heiditalbot.com/
‘Sing It For A Lifetime’: