Sarah Joyce has a lovely voice. No doubt about it. Her sophomore offering
'Boys Don't Cry', however, is a risky proposition all-things-told. An album
of covers for her second outing may possibly alienate some of the fans who
gave such a big thumbs-up to her unimpeachable debut 'Seasons Of My Soul'
but as it happens the sixteen tracks in this collection win through by virtue
of her easy, relaxed delivery and flawless interpretations. It's easy
listening in the nicest possible way. Her London gig at St James church
last week also proved that, live, she is a personable and confident
performer too. Comparisons with Karen Carpenter continue to stalk her
like a shadow (no bad thing in my view) but beyond this Ms Joyce
is asserting her own position as one of the finest new singers currently
working within our shores. Take a song like Isaac Hayes' bluesy 'Soulsville';
her rendition proves that she has a capacity for real soul. She glides
through the number with ease, supported by some cracking gospel backing
vocals and wonderfully restrained playing from her sympathetic instrumental
ensemble. Her take on Hall and Oates 'Sara Smile', too, is a complete joy.
Townes Van Zandt's 'Flying Shoes' gets a dusting down and comes up shining
like a new silver sixpence and opening track 'P.F.Sloan' by Jimmy Webb will
melt your heart if you let it. On the down side Gilbert O'Sullivan's 'We Will'
requires an effort of will to see beyond its composer's schmaltzy sentiment.
On the other hand, 'It Could Be The First Day' by Richie Havens positively
glows with warmly articulated and richly realised emotion. A real treasure.
Producer Steve Brown does a grand job at the desk from top to tail.
Next time around I expect we will be treated to further original material
(Ms Joyce is a very fine songwriter) but for now 'Boys Don't Cry' is a worthy
stepping stone which more than deserves our admiration and attention.