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Nancy Elizabeth (Nee Cunliffe), a singer/songwriter
hailing from Manchester has created a fine piece of
work with her second album 'Wrought Iron'.

The folksy roots of the material belie a strong ability
to think and sing outside of that box. She digs deep with
this collection of 11 songs and delivers something
quite extraordinary in its single-minded vision.

Her voice is an affecting instrument, haunting even.
The sparse arrangements emphasise this somewhat
otherworldly quality. 'Tow The Line', for instance,
with its stark bluesy piano and accordion accompaniment
constructs the perfect frame for the bewitchingly
melancholic vocal line. It is a dark delight.

'Diving' has an almost suffocating intensity. The subtle
brass brings just a little warmth to what might otherwise
have been an entirely desolate experience. Serious stuff.

There is little respite from the oppressive atmosphere.
Even the brief instrumental 'Cat Bells' has an icy chill
running through it. Solemnity, however, is clearly her strength.

'Lay Low' is about as sprightly as things get but only just.
Hand-claps, a pulsing bass, delicate harmonies and that glowing
brass again. Heck (!) things almost get cheerful on this one.

'Ruins' is a perfectly sustained piece of misery, Ms Elizabeth's
voice barely rising above a whisper for its almost 6 minute span.

Final track 'Winter, Baby' grants us a disquieting and disturbing conclusion.

Not since Polly Harvey's 2007 album 'White Chalk' have I heard
such a sustained and almost terrifying vision of sublime disphoria.

I loved every minute of it !!

Highly Recommended.
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on 17 November 2013
In all probability very few people will read this. Perhaps even fewer will understand it. This album is amazing, and I am sorry that I've waited so long to review it. We've just had our cellar dried out and made into a wonderful space for music. The first five albums played down there were the two Moulettes (a wonderful classically influenced English folk-rock band) albums, the latter two by Beach House (an extremely interesting current US West coast band) and Forever Changes by Love (maybe the most influential 1967 album). The sixth was this brilliant second album by Nancy Elizabeth, and it more than holds its own in this exalted company. It's like so much great music; quite difficult to categorise. It is influenced by the the area where I am based, teaching and making wine, the English Lake District. Two instrumental pieces indicate this: Cairns and Cat Bells. These are great, but the strength of the album is reflected by its stunning songs written and sung quietly and sensuously by Nancy to her wholly wonderful musical arrangements. I regret that I've not yet seen her live. She played to a small crowd in a local village hall a few years ago, and I only found out after a friend of mine who was privileged to be at the concert, raved about her and burnt this album for me. I immediately bought the album from Amazon, and rarely have I loved music so much. It's perhaps the best album I have heard by a female singer-songwriter and my collection includes material of this genre from Joni Mitchell to Laura Marling via Suzanne Vega. Buy it and I'd be amazed if you regret it.
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VINE VOICEon 18 November 2009
It starts with a deceptively simple three note piano motif on "The Cairns " . Then the vocal harmonies slink in like mist broiling round a mountaintop. I knew then that I would love Nancy Elizabeth's Wrought Iron. The cover which in it's sepia toned artiness reminded me of the Pixies brilliant Come on Pilgrim was already a considered signifier of quality. You can tell a lot by an albums cover. The cover and more importantly the music within did not let me down.
The music is sparse often just ivory spine , a touch of percussion or bass, a sprinkling of glockenspiel an urging of brass or a quiver of harmonica.. The most striking instrument on this album are the vocals of Nancy Elizabeth herself , a curiously direct thing of intimate beauty , it moves from a right in your ear whisper on "Ruins " to a keening yearn on "Canopy " to a having an playful but faintly chilly bent on "Lay Low ". On " The Act " the real crisp power of her vocal chords comes peeling out the speakers. You could strip Artex off the walls with her voice on this one.
Sparsely arranged as it is, Wrought Iron's is something of a paradox even its open spaces are heavily pregnant with mounting tension and the tease of release. There is incipient drama in this music that reminds me of more celebrated acts . "The Act " starts out like prime Shearwater before inputting some Spirit of Eden Talk Talk atmospherics .This is a folk album , but one with inflections of jazz ( just listen to "Bring On The Hurricane " ) "Feet Of Courage " is an audacious fusing of labyrinthine bass and playful harmonies. "Tow The Line " is a torch song but a torch song given an organic frisson. Less about dark clubs , more about dark woods. It is quite brilliant.
It ends on the spectral secluded notes and wintry vocals of "Winter Baby " aptly enough. Wrought Iron feels like a winter album. All bracing notes and brooding menace yet is also a darkly humane album and one that gives English folk, like her fellow Mancunian , the wonderful Kathryn Edwards, a subtle authoritative twist.
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on 16 August 2013
Saw Nancy Elizabeth in Leeds bought her new album with the single 'dancing' on it which I really liked. Decided I'd like to hear more and based on the reviews I chose this one and haven't been disappointed, quite folky lovely lyrics.
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on 10 January 2011
I love this record, it has so much sparse depth and beauty. It works as a complete album, one that should be listened to from beginning to end to correct your mood. Wonderful.
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on 12 April 2010
Had heard a couple of the tracks on radio and was interested enough to make a purchase but really there was nothing remarkable about this cd apart from the obvious talents of Miss Elizabeth who plays so many of the instruments on it. Alright for backround bread making music ;0)
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