WOOKALILY – Everything Is Normal Except The Little Things Inside My Head (Roxy Records RRCD001)

Everything Is NormalAlmost five years on from their debut album, the female Belfast folk noir five-piece return with a follow-up marked by the confidence and experience gained in the ensuing years. Lining up as guitarist Adele Ingram, drummer Louise Potter, bassist and main vocalist Lyndsay Crothers, banjo and double bass player Sharon Morgan and new girl Claire McGreevey, who plays a staggering number of instruments, the album, recorded entirely on analogue equipment, opens by showcasing their harmonies with the 80 seconds unaccompanied ‘Folly Forever’ before mournful Paris-evoking concertina introduces the funereal-paced New Orleans blues ‘Touche’ as the narrator stews in self-recrimination for screwing up the relationship, the tempo picking up, Crothers on lead, for the airier fingerpicked ‘Welcome To The Fold’, which may or may not be about either mental illness or being old.

A jazzy double bass line provides the spine for the slinky paced ‘Escort Me’ which, with its saloon piano, has a vague cabaret vibe to its one night stand pick up lyric, while spooked sound effects cast an unsettling feel across the otherwise dreamy ‘Old New Mill’. Indeed, they have an experimental almost free-jazz edge to several numbers, evident on the samba sway of ‘Vampyre’ with its dissonant otherwordly sonic flourishes and the druggy psychfolk of ‘Ghost’ , yet are equally capable of something as soothing as the flotation bed waves of ‘Old Hag’ or the simple rustic country roll of ‘Whiskey and Wine’.

Throwing in two bonus tracks midway rather than at the end with ‘Love Makes Me Sick’ and the Appalachian-shaded foreboding of ‘The Nothing Song’, they return full circle for the final track, a title reversed five minute revisiting of ‘Forever Folly’, this time with a slow macabre carnival feel featuring piano, Hammond organ and trumpet among the instrumentation.

Not immediately accessible, Everything Is Normal … requires you to work to get the most out of its low cast musical and lyrical nuances, but I promise you, the effort pays off.

Mike Davies

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‘Touche’ – live on the radio: