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All bracing notes and brooding menace but a darkly humane album.,
This review is from: Wrought Iron (Audio CD)
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.