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A supremely talented mercury prize nominee with an unrivalled critical reputation teams up with an amazing guitarist/vocalist and member of a hugely influential musical clan. Kathryn Williams and Neill MacColl first met at the Daughters of Albion concert (part of the BBC's Folk Britannia season) where they had been paired to perform The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, a song which Neill's father, Ewan MacColl, wrote for his mother, Peggy Seeger. We just clicked, we didn't need to say anything on stage... recalls Kathryn, within a few hours of first saying 'hello' to each other, we were saying - yeah, lets get together and make a record". The result is a sublime and intimate collection of thirteen songs recorded over two weeks in 2007. Seven albums in, the critically acclaimed Brit-folkster Kathryn has also collaborated with the likes of John Martyn, Badmarsh and Shri, Thea Gilmore, Tobias Froberg and Ted Barnes. Neill's career has included long spells in Eddi Reader's band, several years with David Gray, as well as Nanci Griffith, Boo Hewerdine, David Gilmour, Lou Rhodes, Beth Gibbons, Steve Earle and KD Lang, amongst others. Tracks: 6am Corner / Innocent When You Dream / Come With Me / Before It Goes / Blue Fields / Frame / Grey Goes / Weather Forever / Shoulders / Armchair / Rolling Down / All / Holes In Your Life
Kathryn Williams has a voice like a tatty old pair of slippers. Which might seem an unkind thing to say, but the point is that when she starts singing you're overcome with that immediate warm rush of familiarity, your shoulders retreat from their uniform rigidity and every tension point in your body dissipates like a circular ripple on a lake's surface. And she has proven herself time and time again, since 2000's Mercury-nominated Little Black Numbers, with delicate, discerning folk music, weaving a consuming web of light and shade across life's small details. She is a tested comfort. We could have more charitably likened her to a scented bath in low light, or melting honey on a warm knife, but that aligns her too closely to the Katie Melua's of this world (who, comparatively, she makes look like Barbie in leg warmers). On Two she carries on to much the same irrefutable standard as before, only this time in beautiful cohorts with Neill MacColl (half-brother of Kirsty, formerly of Eddi Reader and David Gray's bands), who adds complementary haunting tones to Kathryn's leading voice on "Armchair", "Weather Forever" and "Innocent When You Dream" and guitars that spin and pirouette like a pair alone on an empty ballroom floor followed by a doting spotlight. They are immediately compatible and together they spin a rich tapestry, from the Nick Drake-esque simplicity of "6am Corner", to the bleak seduction of double-bass heavy "Grey Goes" to the lavish string arrangements of "Shoulders". --James BerrySee all Product description
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"look at that painting on the hotel wall seen by lonely eyes, don't go into hotels looking for dreams, don't go into them with thoughts of your life" (`Frame') or
"with my big net, I'm catching colours...I used black and white on how you hurt me" (`Grey Goes') or...many, many others!
This album is great, the production really draws out the best of Neill and Kathryn and their combination together is amazing. I'm a big fan of Williams (can you tell?!) and I really love Neill's bluegrass-y tenor harmonies in combination with her voice, for example on Tom Waits' `Innocent when you Dream'.
The first reviewer appears to have bought this album because he likes male/female duos. Well, this in itself isn't necessarily indicative of musical style or genre - for instance if you're looking for Elton John and Kiki Dee then you won't find it here. However, if you like Eddi Reader, Nick Drake or even the mellower side of Be Good Tanyas then this is a good place to start. If you're thinking of buying it just because you like MacColl or Williams' previous work then you're gonna love it!
A hushed, homely atmosphere wraps itself around the songs, with Williams and MacColl sharing vocals (although the latter sometimes pales into the background) and guitar-playing. MacColl has added the dulcimer and autoharp and Williams the organ, harmonium and melotron. Suffice to say that it makes for an astoundingly quiet and intimate album - "like warm honey on a summers day" as someone has said. There is a hidden bite to some of the lyrics: "I used black and white on how you hurt me" (Grey Goes) expresses a rare bitterness; and "I'll sweeten you like sugar when the world has been f*#!ing with you" (Armchair) lets a little of the wind of the outside world blow into their introspective, sheltered bubble. Kathryn's lyrical trademark - understated melancholy - is here. On Blue Fields, for example (one of the first songs she wrote, but which never worked alone) she asks, "What am I if not looked at by you? Will I disappear?" and on the final track "One day the days and nights will have meaning / Then I can get my diary out...".
It's a great recording, no trickery and hence very real and warm-sounding. If you like the sound of acoustic guitars and close-miked vocals, with a pastoral feel, then this will appeal.
I hope they do another.
What we have before us is a beautifully crafted record from two excellent musicians.Kathryn Williams,a folk singer from Liverpool who released her 8th album last year and Neill MacColl,of the estimable and talented MacColl family, who in recent years has worked with the prolific and excellent David Gray.
The most striking aspect of this record is how well their voices blend throughout.Williams' delicate singing is very seductive and not overpowered by the male voice as can sometimes be the case.MacColl shows he too has more than adequate capabilities as a singer.Neither is the backing singing to the other and this is the strongest aspect of the record for me.The melodies meander beautifully and the instrumentation is exquisite.
A fantastic record if a little short but that is me wanting more of such brilliance.More,please!!
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