Heidi Talbot - In Love & Light
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Heidi Talbot
In Love & Light
Compass Records (www.compassrecords.com)

The second solo album from the former lead singer of Irish-American ensemble Cherish the Ladies mixes contemporary folk with traditional tunes. John Doyle, ex-guitarist from Sólas, Eddi Reader, ex-singer from Fairground Attraction, Mike McGoldrick, flute and whistle player, and most of all veteran fiddler John McCusker deepen the influences that blend radio-friendly, vaguely world-beat, singer-songwriter tunes with those rooted in Celtic styles. Her voice shows polish, without drawing undue attention to itself. She chooses pleasant songs for the pop entries. These in their arrangements opt often for a more accessible, less traditional framework. This may demonstrate her wish to break free of the trad repertoire in the same way that many female, former lead singers of Irish groups have done in the past couple of decades internationally.

After a few songs that favor the pop approach to respectable if not rousing results, an eclectic version of Bedlam Boys energizes the track selection. A lilting Music Tree shows the blend of African with British pop to good effect, and Talbot improves upon Tom Waits' song Time. The album would appeal to those who like British pop-folk artists Eddi Reader, Boo Hewerdine (producer of this album; his Invisible is covered here, and he co-writes Everything and Blackest Crow and When They Ring the Golden Bells), and Kirsty MacColl. However, the addition of McCusker's violin certainly moves this album, in the excellent ballad Glenlogie, co-arranged with Dick Gaughan, into more timeless territory, and it is here that Talbot sounds at her best. This song recalls Maddy Prior or June Tabor. The broadening of her music into the popular genre perhaps shows a restlessness after so long in the traditional field. Like Prior or Tabor, this direction may continue to challenge her, as she blends her traditional background with her diverse interests, and future albums may chart her success in assimilating her Celtic musical heritage with her more mainstream-oriented talents. - John L. Murphy

CD available from cdroots

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CD available from cdroots

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