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Covington is up there with Sandy Denny!
on 8 October 2000
It is inexplicable to my mind why a vocal talent of this kind has been overlooked in recent decades, especially as Julie Covington was so popular in the Seventies.I only encountered her work by accident, some while ago, through a friend who is a fan. Thus, the re-release of Covington's recordings on CD has come as a great pleasure. When my homemade cassette tape of her LPs wore out I was disconsolate, but I went on singing the lyrics in my head! She is up there with Sandy Denny as an interpreter par excellence, whose clarity of enunciation and range of emotion is unique. She can evoke wistfulness, pathos and a kind of gutsy, ballsy energy unmatched by any artist I can think of. There are some gems on this compilation, many of which display Covington's talent at interpreting material by, in particular, denizens of the folk scene such as Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny. A personal favourite, for its sense of expectation and weekend round the corner optimism, is 'Bright Lights', a real 'Friday night' song...Again, her version of Sandy Denny's 'By the time it gets dark' is a poignant reminder of that artist's tragic death at 31. Nor, like Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span,does Covington fight shy of tacking Brecht-her version of 'Barbara's Song' is a gentler, more reflective performance than the former's 'Black Freighter', but has the same bitter, underlying edge. 'The Kick Inside', by Kate Bush, is made less stagey and more incisive. The track 'Only Women Bleed' is a sad but ironic comment on the female condition. This CD is marvellous for a whole set of reasons-anyone into Seventies nostalgia has much pleasure ahead of them-this is undoubtedly 'mood' music for an era. If you are an admirer of folk of this period, there is also a lot to enjoy. Similarly, there is mainstream 'cover' material such as Lennon's 'How' or Winwood's 'Let Me Make Something in Your Life'. This is a set which oozes the joy, regret and ambivalence of romance. You could fall in love to this CD-and with it, as well!