BARBARA DICKSON – Time Is Going Faster (Chariot Records CTVPCD022)

Time Is Going FasterBarbara Dickson’s twenty-fifth solo album sees her reaching back as if to defy the idea that time is going faster. We find her returning to traditional songs, covering old favourites and turning her hand to songwriting for the first time in thirty years. Supporting her are old friends Nick Holland, who also produced Time Is Going Faster, and Troy Donockley with Brad Lang on bass and Russell Field on drums.

With some irony the first verse that Barbara sings contains the line “The days are running so slow” as she returns to her Scottish roots to cover Robin Williamson’s ‘Good As Gone’, a rather solemn keyboard driven version. Next is ‘Barbara Allen’, a song that was done to death in the 60s but is now back in fashion with several artists finding textual variants and doing their own thing with it. Is there some sort of gestalt mind process at work among performers?

The first of Barbara’s original songs is ‘Where Shadows Meet The Light’, a piano ballad with Holland and Donockley taking the role of an, admittedly rather eccentric, orchestra. She follows it with a lovely version of Gerry Rafferty’s ‘Look Over The Hill’ and then the oldest words here. ‘Heyr, Himna Smiður’ is a 13th century Icelandic hymn set to a modern tune and an English translation. ‘The Ballad Of The Speaking Heart’ has also a long journey with Barbara adding to it by writing a new tune and an extra verse while retaining the spirit of Scotland that Hamish Henderson gave it.

‘Tell Me It’s Not True’ takes us back to Barbara’s role in Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers while in another new song, ‘Goodnight, I’m Going Home’, she recalls her teenage years in Edinburgh. ‘Lament Of The Three Marys’ is an Irish sean nós song, again with an English translation, and an arrangement shared with Holland. The final title track, another Dickson original, betrays her songwriting roots with hints of both Williamson and Rafferty – or is that just Donockley being playful?

It may be ungallant to point out that Barbara has been following her destiny for more than fifty years but Time Is Going Faster, as she insists it is, finds her still moving forwards.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website:

‘Goodnight, I’m Going Home’: