Music You Don't Know You Like Yet
2010-10-02Review by Nick of Heidi Talbot The Last Star Bio: Born in the rural village of Kill, County Kildare, Ireland, Talbot began singing in the church choir run by her mother. At sixteen, she enrolled at Dublin’s Bel Canto singing school, studying for the next year and a half under its founder and director Frank Merriman. When she was 18, Heidi moved to New York, where she spent two years working in bars and clubs before being invited to join Cherish the Ladies in 2002. In between the band’s touring schedule, Talbot continued to develop her solo work, releasing Distant Future on Nashville roots label Compass Records. Produced by John Doyle, the record featured such guests as multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell, concertinist John Williams and fiddler Rayna Gellert. Three years later, the recording of In Love and Light coincided with her decision to leave Cherish the Ladies at the end of 2007. After the launch of In Love and Light at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival in January 2008, Talbot featured as a guest on forthcoming albums by Radiohead drummer Philip Selway, and the new trio collaboration of John McCusker, Kris Drever and Roddy Woomble. She has also sung on records by Eddi Reader, Boo Hewerdine, and Idlewild. She tours as a trio with John McCusker and Boo Hewerdine and finished a six week tour opening for and singing with Eddi Reader. Drawing on the full, diverse spectrum of influences that inform her singing,The Last Star complements Talbot’s exquisitely expressive, honeyed yet ardent voice with guest contributions from Eddi Reader, ex-Solas guitarist John Doyle, fiddler John McCusker and flute/whistle ace Mike McGoldrick. If the voice sounds eerily familiar, know that Heidi was for five years one of the sweet voices in the Irish-American supergroup Cherish The Ladies. Other voices on this beautifully arranged and produced cd may be recognizable by fans of celtic music, as well. There are a few threads that weave through Heidi Talbot’s recording The Last Star. Her gift as a musical storyteller brings together songs from the past (her Irish heritage and her own personal) typical Gaelic tales of humor and sorrow, and characters foolish and wise. The main theme of this cd is that of love. It might be of the rambling and funny sort (“Beecker Street”), or a traditional tale that starts out one way and ends in quite another (“Willie Taylor”). She could be singing of a tale of love, loss, family, and change (“Cherokee Rose”, “Bantry Girls”), or a quiet bit of reflection (“The Last Star”, “Start It All Over Again”). The guitar playing on “The Shepherd Lad” is just beautiful, and is complemented by the flute and concertina. “Sally Brown” fits into that quirky, lighthearted tone, as well. “Tell Me Truly” is a light-hearted song utilizing the harmonies of the flute and concertina, as well as the vocals of her talented contributors. Those contributors include Kris Drever, John McCusker (who produced the album and contributed his songwriting talents, as well), Eddi Reader, Michael McGoldrick, and Karine Polwart. The bittersweet title track (“The Last Star”) was co-written by Talbot and McCusker, and is sure to be a classic, as is the cover “At The End Of The Day”. The musical arrangements on this cd are excellent, and showcase the vocal lead of Heidi Talbot, as well as the backup and duet vocals. As pretty as is the harmonies and instrumentation, I just don't get the track “Hang Me”. But hang me if I don't declare this should be a part of every traditional celtic music fan's cd collection. – Steven “Nick” Nickelson
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