Continuing our series of reviews, the third part of our quartet of exciting new releases focuses on an artiste already familiar to regular visitors to Marsh Towers.
Bridie Jackson and the Arbour are all set to release Bitter Lullabies, a brand new CD which is very likely to bring their music to the attention of a much wider audience while at the same time providing guaranteed satisfaction to their existing fanbase.
The suitably mysterious cover art is indicative of the contents. The music lies somewhere in the Folk world, but buried deeply within the genre and unafraid of cross-pollination into other worlds, with Gospel being an obvious example. Alt-folk, post-folk, psyche folk...? The labels aren't particularly important (are they ever, even in real life?). On playing this CD, the listener will definitely experience something new, buzzing with understated power and vitality.
We Talked Again
Promises are Broken
The Burden of Survival
The Woman with Milk Teeth
Please Forgive me my Human Ways
All You Love is All You Are
All bar one of the songs (Promises are Broken, by Sue Kane) were written by Bridie. The Arbour consists of seven people, excluding Bridie. Instruments include guitar, cello, mandolin, bassoon, piano, violin, glockenspiel and bell plates. An unusual ensemble - and a very effective one. Five people have 'backing vocals' on their credits too, and this aspect shouldn't be underestimated. The angelic, choral background to the majority of the tracks is a Bridie Jackson trademark, giving the songs a rich, textured background to counterpoint the obscure, challenging lyrics.
Stand out tracks include We Talked Again, Aliens and All You Love is All You Are, but there's nothing I don't like. The up-tempo Mucky hints at a potential new change of direction, or perhaps broadening of the repertoire. Either way, it would be good to hear more of the Spanish guitar-driven style.
I've been familiar with - and enjoyed - all of Bridie's work to date and I can honestly say she's never sounded better. I found it's no good as background music, as the songs demand attention and won't let go until they get it. Multi-tasking while absorbing a Bridie Jackson number is not an option. There's far too much of interest going on to tolerate distractions.
Fittingly, the CD launch will take place at The Sage (12 January). Some of it was recorded there and virtually everybody who performs at The Sage is quick to praise the wonderful acoustics, so I'm absolutely certain that it will be a night to remember. A review will follow here, naturally.
My advice is to try and snap up a ticket for the launch without delay. It was almost sold out the last time I checked, but you may be lucky.