All The Ghosts Gwyneth Herbert
- 1So Worn Out03:37
- 2Annie's Yellow Bag03:54
- 4My Narrow Man03:37
- 5Jane Into A Beauty Queen03:04
- 6Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is04:42
- 8My Mini And Me04:35
- 9Some Days I Forget / Rock n Roll Suicide11:51
Info for All The Ghosts
On her fourth album, Gwyneth Herbert builds on the strengths that made her last release, Between Me And The Wardrobe, a success. Focussing on her folk-jazz vocal style and on her own compositions rather than cover versions, All The Ghosts should see her career continue on its recent upward trajectory.
Herbert's songs are rightly starting to draw comparisons with those of 60s Ray Davies and Paul McCartney. She has a fine sense of melody and her latest songs tell stories that equal ''Terry meets Julie, Waterloo station, every Friday night'' or ''Wednesday morning at five o'clock as the day begins''.
The songs create a cast of inner-city archetypes, each with an intriguing tale to tell. Many of the protagonists are society's losers or victims. Unlike Davies or McCartney, Herbert unfailingly sees the world from a woman's point of view. It is no coincidence that four of the track titles contain women's names. Her voice and phrasing are often reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, noticeably on Nataliya. The elasticity of her voice perfectly conveys the songs' emotions and softens their occasional bleakness. Men are either objects of desire, as on My Narrow Man, or contempt, as on Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is.
The accompaniment from pianist Steve Holness, bassist Sam Burgess, percussionist Dave Price and guitarist Al Cherry is subtly understated, complementing the voice well. Rarely in the limelight, the music impresses when it is featured. Cherry's acoustic guitar is the highlight of My Mini and Me, notably the slide guitar coda. Previously available online in 2008 as a download-only album entitled Ten Lives, this expanded and retitled version is a coherent and compelling song suite. One of the added tracks comes as a surprise after the nine Herbert originals. Almost as an afterthought, the album closes with a raw version of Bowie's Rock 'n' Roll Suicide.
It seems an odd finale given Herbert's age. She was born years after Ziggy Stardust gave his last performance. Nonetheless, as on the original Bowie release, it brings this impressive album to a suitably emotional and rousing conclusion. (John Eyles, BBC Music)
'Shifting metres, contrasting backgrounds, and lyrics that actually mean something.' (Jazzwise)
Gwyneth Herbert, Vocals & Piano (on Narrow Man)
Al Cherry, Guitars
Dave Price, Percussion
Sam Burgess, Bass
Steve Holness, Piano & Organ
Gwyneth Herbert is an artist who continues to redefine (and defy) our expectations. A singer-songwriter with one foot in the jazz world and one somewhere in the future, with pierrot-dotted eyes, polka-spotted shoes and swanny whistle in hand she may appear as whimsical as a Bonzo Dog, but writes beautiful melodies and has a poet’s grasp of the world around her. Her song-writing has been compared to Lennon and McCartney, Ray Davies and Janis Ian, while musically her influences range from the junk yard clunk of Tom Waits to the Brechtian punk of the Dresden Dolls and from the minimalism of Steve Reich’ to the banging drum ‘n’ bass of Hackney’s pirate stations.
In just the last few months Herbert has won two prestigious theatrical awards, had them queuing around the block at the Rochester Jazz Festival in New York (where her show was in the top ten out of over two hundred), seen her cover of Neil Young’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ used in a Hollywood ‘rom com’, appeared at Wilton’s Music Hall alongside Sian Phillips and Marc Almond, written a song-cycle about the sea to debut in Aldeburgh this autumn, sung a series of 18th Century murder ballads on Radio 4, and composed and performed a specially commissioned soundtrack to silent film The Patsy at the BFI. But while this breathtaking range of activities reveals Herbert to be very much a 21st century artist able to draw on a formidable range of talents, she remains at the very heart of it all a storyteller with a fine ear for a catchy hook, as her latest single, the charming Perfect Fit amply demonstrates.
Perfect Fit is also at the heart of Herbert’s forthcoming release, Clangers & Mash, a mini-album that draws on the many sides of her musical world from stripped back ukulele strums through recent classics to dark-hearted remixes that present her work in a brand new light.
As Herbert herself puts it: “I wanted to do something a bit different to mark the release of our new single, Perfect Fit, so I scrabbled around for a few backstage scrapings and asked a handful of my lovely and varied musician friends to present some Herbert tracks as they’d never been heard before. The result is Clangers and Mash: bleepy, tappy, pleasureful ear food to tickle your bellies. Tuck in!”