Tuesday 28 May 2013

Nancy Elizabeth - Dancing

Album review by kev@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk

I think at this point in time, when an album is tagged in iTunes as "Traditional" and is by a respected modern folk artist such as Nancy Elizabeth, then you'll already have made up your mind whether to proceed or run for cover. The fact that Elizabeth's music is far from the commercial side of this never-ending revival is besides the point; there's simply so much of this music around that overkill happened around three or four years ago. Of course it's unlikely that there's a vast difference in the number of people dabbling in this genre now than at any other point in musical history, the prevalence comes from labels releasing the music more widely to capitalise on public demand. The question really is does 'Dancing' offer us anything we're not (through no fault of her own) already sick to the back teeth of?

Well, yes and no. Fans will no doubt be aware by now (this is her third album) that Nancy Elizabeth is highly talented. Not only as a songwriter; she has a fine voice and is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist. If authenticity matters to you, then we'll point out that the 'Dancing' was made for next to nothing in her small flat in Manchester. This isn't trust-fund folk. It's the real deal and it's an updated version of the genre, and one that isn't attention seeking in any way. Whichever way you look at it, this is a record that was made for the right reasons in a humble and, judging by the quality of the recording, reasonably masterful way. Because of the nature of these songs, often relying on atmosphere, unless you're already up to speed with Elizabeth's previous work, it's likely that 'Dancing' will take repeat listens, but give it this time and you will be rewarded.

What's impressive about this album is how understated some songs are. Take 'Death In A Sunny Room', a track clearly written as it should be; it's not looking for radio play or popular approval, it's written to convey its message and it does so with little more than a piano, probably the key instrument to these songs. This is immediately followed by 'Debt', a definite high-point and a song where Nancy Elizabeth comes into her own: it's unique. It's moments like this when she stamps her own mark on the songs that make this album a worthwhile purchase. Other examples include the beautifully sung 'Shimmering Song', the lively 'Raven City', dreamy opener 'The Last Battle' and the slightly kooky 'Heart'. None of the other songs are bad, in fact the standard is high throughout, but ultimately your enjoyment of 'Dancing' will come down to just how bored of acoustic music you've become since the floodgates opened.

Nancy Elizabeth's website

Stream or buy the album

Catch her live:

THU Jun 20 Leaf, Liverpool, UK
FRI Jun 21 Cube Cinema, Bristol, UK
SAT Jun 22 Porter's, Cardiff, UK
SUN Jun 23 Phoenix Centre, Exeter, UK
TUE Jun 25 Glad Cafe, Glasgow, UK
WED Jun 26 The Adelphi / New Adelphi, Hull, UK
THU Jun 27 The Dog, Coventry, UK
FRI Jun 28 The Victoria, Dalston, London, UK
SAT Jun 29 South Street Arts Centre, Reading, UK
SUN Jun 30 International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, UK
WED Jul 10 Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, UK
SUN Jul 21 Latitude Festival 2013
Late Junction at the Lavish Lounge, Southwold, UK

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