There is a danger that Beth Rowley could be lost among the plethora of female vocalists who have surfaced recently - that would be a pity. Throughout this varied set, Rowley's vocal ability is clear. She effortlessly handles blues, country and gospel and turns Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" into a reggae inspired shuffle. Not only that, she has written 5 of the tracks, each of which bears testament to the varied influences she must have had.
My favourites are the aforementioned Dylan track, "Almost Persuaded.." and "When the Rains Came", each of which build to a superb gospel climax, (but then I am a sucker for Soul) and "Only one Cloud", which sounds like an ancient Blues, but is actually part written by Rowley.
If you like Duffy, Adele, Winehouse, Norah Jones or Alice Russell, I would recommend this album - soulful vocals, restrained arrangements, you'll find it ends too soon and you'll play it again.
She's got a great voice and can handle a range of styles with ease.
Her pop radio songs are somewhat misleading as her handling of blues and gospel numbers on this album is exceptional.
Yes, there are echoes of other great female artists here, but her voice and style is distinctive and good enough to ensure she doesn't get consigned to the 'if you like this, you'll love this' category.
A refreshing new talent and voice in a sea of increasing pop mediocrity.
I bought this album after hearing one of the tracks on the radio , and have to say that it is not a bad album . There are one or two of the tracks that need more than a few listenings , but on the whole it is a very pleasant album that is ideal for those quieter moments of the day .
Though born in Peru, Beth Rowley is of British stock and has lived in Britain since her parents returned home when she was two. Beth grew up listening to many different styles of music thanks to her parents' eclectic musical tastes and this is reflected in her music. As a singer-songwriter, Beth has co-written five of the songs here, often with the help of Ben Castle. Ben (son of Roy Castle) is a jazz saxophonist who has worked with Jamie Cullum. The other six songs are covers but Beth has chosen them well. I'd be very surprised if you've heard more than about four of them by other artists at the very most.
The set opens with a traditional song (Nobody's fault but mine). Beth's bluesy voice is perfectly matched to this bluesy song that sets a high standard for the rest of the album, which maintains that high standard throughout.
The next two tracks (Sweet hours, So sublime) are among the original songs, with the latter being the second single from the album, released just a week before the album itself. The release of the first single (Oh my life, which is track 7 here) preceded the album by a full three months but failed to chart.
The fourth track (I shall be released) might be the most familiar song that Beth covered for this album, it being one of Bob Dylan's classic songs. Beth opted to give it an upbeat reggae treatment that may be slightly at odds with the lyrics but nevertheless works well.
The next three tracks feature two more brilliant original songs (Only one cloud, Oh my life) sandwiching a cover of When the rains came, written and originally recorded by British blues singer Jim Crawford. I confess that I've never heard of him before but if all his songs are this good, one wonders why he isn't better known.
The next two tracks, both covers, are what attracted my attention when I first saw the album and looked at the track listing in my local store. I am familiar with a Willie Nelson song titled Angel flying too close to the ground. I really didn't believe that somebody could come up with a different song with that title. Seeing another familiar country song title (Almost persuaded) as the following title reinforced this belief. I did some research and confirmed that these songs were indeed covers of the songs that I was familiar with and after listening to some of the other songs (but not these two) on MySpace, I knew that I had to buy this album.
Beth chose to bring in guest vocalist Duke Special on Angel flying too close to the ground. It's a long way removed from Willie Nelson's original version, but if the great man hears it, I think he would approve. Almost persuaded (originally recorded by David Houston, who has long since faded into obscurity) has generated a variety of covers including very distinctive versions by Etta James and Hank Williams Junior. Both of those covers are very different from the original and from each other. Tammy Wynette is among those singers who recorded faithful covers of the song. Beth has stamped her own identity on the song so her version is different again from the others I've heard.
Next comes the last of the five excellent original songs here, You never even called me tonight. The final track (Beautiful tomorrow), like the opening track, is a traditional song, but this one is a gospel song that Beth may have learned from Mahalia Jackson's version.
Musically, this is hard to classify but it has elements of pop, jazz, blues and soul in it. Despite including two covers of country songs, I don't detect any country influences in the actual music. Not that I mind, because this is a truly brilliant debut album by a singer who will hopefully be around for a long time.
I have been a fan of Beths for the last couple of years since she been doing the London circuit and have recently been able to attain a copy of the album. The album doesnt disapoint but i have to say that the best songs are the same songs she released on her ep. If you want to listen to, in my view, one of the some outstanding voices in resent years buy the album.