Offered at a bargain £5, Woman Like Me, a ten track collection, is essentially an introduction taster for newcomers to this outstanding Southport folk-rock outfit, although current admirers might like to acquire two early numbers from their work in progress next album as well as a previously unreleased traditional interpretation.
The new album will firmly put the vocal spotlight on Cherlene Walmsley, who has now firmly established her right to be among those female vocalist of the year nominations, the two new songs, produced by John Kettle from Wigan folk kindred spirits Merry Hell, opening proceedings with, first, the title track, a rousing, driving number with a melody that sounds like an urgent variation of Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ (but with a slow bridge section) and has her declaring why she should be the one to back, feisty, a self-made woman who’ll meet trouble head on, is “wicked company”, knows her own mind and can “drink like a horse” and wake up with a clear head. She’s the spark your Tinder box needs.
The second is the slower, fingerpicked, more traditional styled folksier and strings adorned ‘The Ghost Of Edmond’, a ballad, written by Linda Armstrong, in which a woman laments the death of her soldier lover, cut down by a sword as he stood his ground, wishing she could find and be reunited on the hill where he was slain.
The unreleased recording, arranged for piano and acoustic guitar, is a reading of ‘She Moved Through The Fair’, underscoring that ‘Shelley’ can do tender and understated as well as belt them out. The other tracks are plucked from past albums, kicking off with ‘Another Life’, their world class song from the recent Morning’s Coming about the transmigration of souls and lovers finding one another across the centuries, and continuing with ‘Magic Hour’, ‘Silver Darlings’ (about 19th century herring fishing in the North Sea), ‘The Trysting ‘ and, sung by Pete Cunliffe, the coal industry themed ‘There Is A Seam’ all from When We Were Astronauts And Other Stories with two covers from Lights, Dylan’s ‘Man In The Long Black Coat’ and a terrific fiddle-adorned take Sandy Denny’s immortal ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’.
If you’ve not yet discovered them, be prepared to join the ranks of those of us who consider them one of the elites of this country’s folk rock scene. If you’re already a convert, then this will remind you why.
Artists’ website: www.visionthingband.com
‘Woman Like Me’ – official video: