Every once and a while, it’s refreshing to create something a little different.
David Rotheray (The Beautiful South) has decided to put a little twist on his newest release. Collaborating with a range of popular singers, Rotheray delivers “Answer Ballads”. The idea is simple, but brilliant: take a classic Pop song using the core lyrical topic and respond with an Answer Ballad.
“Mrs Jones’ Song” featuring the unique voice of Lisa Knapp, and uses the character told in the story of “Me & Mrs Jones”. I recently got to review Knapp’s latest release, and I mentioned that her voice might not be everyone’s taste. On this track she tends to add a quiver in her voice, that gives off a sense of heartbreak. It’s a nice melody, but very unusual. “Maggie’s Song” is an answer to the classic Rod Stewart number “Maggie May”. Vocals are from Eliza Carthy and are fantastic. She has such a rasp in her tone, that really makes the song. If you know the actual song “Maggie May”, there is that strange beginning, almost medieval sounding? Well, it’s seems Rotheray has based his music mainly from that section, while also adding a blues vibe. ”Daniel’s Song”, accompanied by Kris Drever, is a straight up country ballad, but a lovely one at that.
“Roxanne’s Song” – yeah you thought right – is an answer to The Police’s famous hit. But don’t be expecting an upbeat tune, think the complete opposite. It has quite a haunting vibe to it in the music, with Kathryn Williams voice coming across sarcastic and angry. But it’s quite a forgettable track, simply because you are waiting for some sort of hook, but before you know it the 2 minutes and 40 seconds that the track is made up of, it suddenly comes to an end. But things quickly pick back up with one of my favourite female vocalists, Gemma Hayes, on the track “Pearl’s Song”. A delightful electric piano guides along in this very feel good tune. There is a great groove and 70s piano playing in “Bobby’s Song” but very questionable vocals all round. “Lucille’s Song” contains a mind-blowing vocal performance, courtesy of Mary Coughlan. The entire song sets a picture in you’re mind of sitting in a smoky jazz bar and is one of my personal highlights on the album.
“Dino’s Song”, an answer to Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town”, is riddled with slide guitar and very nice chord changes, but the vocals of Alasdair Roberts really wasn’t my cup of tea.
The album closes with a heartbreaking performance from Julie Murphy on “Jolene’s Song”. Strings soar and make this the perfect way to end an album.
Answer Ballads is a very interesting concept that is full of variety. Besides the occasional questionable vocal performances, there are some lovely moments.