From Manchester and based in the High Peak, encouraged in songwriting by family friend Gary Barlow, Beulah Garside (as was) released her debut album, Mabel and I, back in 2005, the track ‘Stay’ going on to become a compilations staple and she spending time working in Nashville and LA. The self-titled follow-up followed in 2013 but largely flew beneath the radar, although did attract a sizeable following in Brazil, since which time she has had a decidedly low profile, focusing on family, with just the occasional download single. Six years on and she’s retitled it as Hollow and re-released it, revised the running order and is making new music too.
She’s well worth the effort of seeking out, the album a mix of soul, jazz influences and Americana, opening with the addition of a new track, ‘Roll Away The Stone’ with its echoes of ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ and following on with the folksier flavoured title song, with its flurry of castanets, rippling fingerpicked acoustic guitar pattern and lyrics about keeping safe from the bogey man (“I’ll take you to the hollow/Where no one else can follow/Where the souls of those who haunt you/Rest with beasts and bones from the rubble”).
Riding a strummed guitar and slightly loping melody, the seductively sung, forget the other girls, self-assertive ‘Seriously’ (“I’ve got moves you won’t believe/I’ve just never shown them to ya”) is the first of the more country-shaded numbers, leading into the circling acoustic and tapped percussion of ‘Unravelling’, an echo of 60s pop broken heart balladry that might once have been covered by Cilla Black.
Staying on the acoustic path, ‘Moon’ is a gentle swayalong that’s essentially about finding solace when you’re feeling lost, lonely and full of pain (“you finally get to Heaven there’s a sign on the gate/Saying ‘closed for the weekend/But come visit us soon’”), the brooding, slow-paced ‘Wanted’ (“I go inside/I take what’s there, belongs to me”) adopting a bluesier mood with its spooked music box opening notes followed by a single letter change for the softer, fingerpicked ‘Wasted’, a love disappointment, broken relationship number where she sings “I believed this meant more”.
Piano takes centre stage for the next two tracks, first the gentle, comforting ‘Safe’ (“You don’t want to talk you don’t want to explain/Well that’s ok…just open your arms to me”) while Space concerns the need to sometimes just gets way from things (“I’m not trying to freeze you out – It’s just my way”).
Hollow ends with, first, the just simple strummed guitar of ‘Vampire’, another song of love gone cold (“You used to kiss me neck/Just like the sun…Now I wait/For the touch that never comes”) and, finally, the wheezing harmonium (?) slow lullabying pledge of love waltz of ‘River’ (Wait for me and I’ll wait for you/I’ve loved you for all of my life”) about holding on “to all that is holy just like I hold on to you for dear life”.
I’m sure there’s a secret pleasure in being among the cognoscenti or tracking down her hard to find releases, but she’s far too good an artist to go largely unknown and unheard, so consider it your duty to spread the word.
Artist’s website: www.facebook.com/BeulahMusic
The classic ‘Stay’ – official video: