Fair Lady London sees a reunion of sorts with Trevor and Hannah-Lou’s former Danny And The Champions Of The World bandmate Danny George Wilson in that they’re now signed to his and Del Day’s label, following the full studio heft of 2015’s Ethan Johns-produced Expatriot, the husband and wife duo have returned to the 4-track cassette recorder of their 2012 debut, recorded in an East Sussex castle.
Working with generally little more than a couple of acoustic guitars, it opens with the sprightly fingerpicked and harmonies of the swapping city for country title track (and some wheezing harmonium) with its echoes of the late 60s folk scene, Hannah then taking lead for the gently rippling seasons changing ‘When Spring Calls’ with its avian imagery.
One of the album’s particular highlights, Hannah-Lou harmonising on the chorus and with the occasional shake of a tambourine, the six-minute ‘We Should’ve Gone Dancing’ deals with reflective regret over moments not taken and words spoken in the heat of a moment, charting the end of a relationship as, having walked out following a fight, the man returns home to find she’s left him.
‘Minds On The Run’, another carpe diem song about missed opportunities on the back of Hannah-Lou’s soaring soprano, ‘Everything You Need’, a bouncy guitar and bass driven love song that co-mingles yearning and lack of self-confidence, and the stay forever young/lost future motorbike death song ‘Johnny The Lightning’ are all taken at a nimble skip, again harking back to those coffee shop harmony folk days of the 60s, but the pacing tends to be mostly melancholic and restrained.
Again coloured by harmonium, the pure-sung ‘All In Good Time’ is a particularly lovely, almost hymnal number with a simple cascading chords structure and optimistic lyric (“Fear will take its leave…shoots will break the earth”), ‘Tie My Ribbons’ introduces harmonica for a dimming of the day slow waltz song of devotion in time of trial and trouble which, with the opening lines, “When you’re down all but out/And heaven’s calling your name/And the baying crowd indifferent turn away/I will listen throughout and come the end of the day/I’ll be there hanging on every word that you say” can’t help but evoke thoughts of ‘You’ve Got A Friend’.
Given an almost music box feel with fingerpicked guitar and one-handed piano trills ‘I Could Break You’ has a dark lyric about control (“I could break you/But I don’t want to/I just need you to know that I could”), the album ending on musical upbeat note with the jaunty ‘The First Or The Last’ bringing back the tambourine for the album’s sole flirtation with politics as, surely a Brexit nod, they sing “It’s time to decide now man who you want to be/Yeah there’s a line drawn in the sand of history”, complete with a delayed ending designed to catch out unwary radio presenters.
In reference to the frequent Simon & Garfunkel comparisons, Hannah-Lou has joked that they might emulate them by making just five albums as a duo. Of course Paul and Art stopped working together because their personal and musical relationship broke down, Trevor and Hannah-Lou’s however, is firing on all cylinders, so I suspect they’ll be going dancing together for a good while yet.
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‘We Should’ve Gone Dancing’ – official video: