There are plenty who would (and indeed do) dine out on a Mercury Music Prize nomination to the point where Gillian McKeith appearing from behind a trifle wagging her bitter, spindly finger would seem a distinct probability, but the unerringly prolific Isobel Campbell didn't so much as take her coat off. We're talking an hors d'oeuvre at best, or a serving of tapas; we're too many works into an esteemed career for a starter metaphor to be useful. A matter of months after Ballad Of The Broken Seas
, her textured collaboration with gravel-voiced US bluesman Mark Lanegan, and even less since it swept into the public consciousness with a Mercury endorsement, the next instalment in her increasingly mystical story tumbles effortlessly out of her.
As the years go by Campbell seems intent on refining the nature of her creative output, like watching a flower time-lapse back to seed. We're a long distance now from the DIY orchestrations of former employers Belle & Sebastian. The aesthetics of this album are similar to the last, yet without the tarred gravity of Lanegan's input Milk White Sheets
is almost weightless in its delicacy, almost pagan in its simplicity. "Loving Hannah" is testament, her dainty voice and her dainty voice alone chasing the breeze with a trad-folk momentum. "Are You Going To Leave Me" adds crude drum rumblings and Harmonium groans, and the album explores further embryonic relationships between cello, slide and plucked guitars, basic hypnotic beats and her slight fairy vocal. Dreamy like the Cocteau Twins setting up in the 16th Century. --James Berry