(5 / 5)
Let’s begin by a little bit of under-statement, shall we? Taken from Daisy’s own website, which says the new album, her third, is: “An album comprising of grand pianos, cellos and violins. Not to mention Daisy’s spectacular vocals”.
My turn. This record is simply gorgeous. As is this lady’s voice. She’s one of ours, a British lass from Bristol, and this self-penned (but one) collection of nine choice cuts, straddles the genres between folk and singer-songwriter.
In reference to the opening paragraph and the use of the word “spectacular” to sum up her vocal skills; I am not arguing. I’ll go further, to say she has one of the best voices I have heard in many years. From the off, she’s on fire. The title track kicks off proceedings and her voice soars, with power and passion.
This track goes on a bit too long for me, but packs a punch – a mid-tempo, choral vibe; under-stated strings adding great value. She sings in no less than 10 languages on this song; English, Swahili, Dutch, Italian, French, Bulgarian, Welsh, Nepali, Swedish and Polish. What no Esperanto? The smattering of oboe is cool.
She is graceful and emotionally connected on the second track, “Home Fires”, which when reading the track listing on the back of the CD cover, with the font they use and my dodgy eyesight showing my age; I misread it as “Home Fries”. Made me hungry! Vocals, piano, violin and cello on this one.
The standout song “Generation Next”, is inspired by the younger artists moving up through the musical ranks in Bristol, a journey Daisy took herself when she moved to the city 19 years ago. This one sure to become a live stage favourite. It takes a sneaky twist with a bit of a New Orleans marching band feel to it toward the end of the track, courtesy of baritone sax man Ian Vorley, trombonist Richard Cross and the drum skills of Martin Denzin.
Daisy draws on both experience and history to form her stories, from the tragedy of “Idilia Dubb” (a girl who met her fate trapped up a tower in 1851), to the poignant reminiscence of old England in, ”I Used To Own An Empire”. The latter is a beautiful song with a shivers-down-the-spine vocal, again a measured and classy string arrangement the icing on the sweet tasting cake. Production values faultless. Mourning the demise of the railways and mining industry, with a sarcastic pop at some of those deemed responsible – “Thanks for nothing, Dr Beeching!”
Her grasp of vocal phrasing is something to behold across these nine cuts. The penultimate track, “There’s A Storm Coming”, a fine example. The record closes in style with a blissful five minutes and fifty seconds cover of the great Tom Wait’s song “Tom Traubert’s Blues”, a good fit for this artist.
Stripped back to just voice and piano, (and I really need to make the point that her masterful piano playing is as killer as her voice across this album), joined only by the violin of Sue Lord and the cello of Kate Robey. The simplicity and the way the song rises and falls, works really well, and ends this set on a high.
All three of Daisy’s albums – her first in 2006 and the last one in 2009 – were recorded in Bristol by Ali Chant (PJ Harvey, John Parish, GruffRhys, Giant Sand, Seasick Steve). The first two previously drawing comparisons with Nick Cave and Regina Spektor. Ali really did do a fabulous job with this one.
The album took longer to record than usual, mostly due to the fact that Daisy gave birth to a daughter in May 2016, but this didn’t stop her working hard. She toured Europe for a month with prog’ rockers Crippled Black Phoenix, on piano and backing vocals, and another month with her European quartet The Songbirds Collective, all while heavily pregnant. She will travel with them to Taiwan this year.
Another British female singer-songwriter who has made her name in the folk genre, but a hell of a lot more than that to her, is Sally Barker. She can move you to tears with the passion, emotion and vulnerability in her voice, as she famously did with Sir Tom Jones on prime time BBC TV a couple of years ago.
Daisy Chapman is another UK singer with that same rare gift from above in her voice, and I am really, really, really glad to have been given the chance to hear her new album before it is out there. The bookers for “Later…with Jools Holland” should be sent this record fast.
If this stunning album is not nominated for a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award – and any other eligible awards come to that – for ‘album of the year’ – there is no justice. But Ms. Daisy Chapman is a star, with or without trophies to prove it. Just listen…that’s all the proof we should need.
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’