A lot has happened since Heidi Talbot released her last solo album, ‘Angels Without Wings’ in 2013. Along with her husband and collaborator, renowned and accomplished fiddler John McCusker, Heidi has built a recording studio, started a record label, formed a new band, had a second daughter, and lost her mum. Those changes are reflected in the album title which illustrates a kind of ‘leap into the dark,’ though when you have friends and collaborators such as Louis Abbot, Duke Special, Adam Holmes, Boo Hewerdine and the aforementioned Mr McCusker to help you find your new path it’s somewhat less of a risk than it could have been. That said, the real change here is that Heidi herself has contributed far more to the writing process (on 8 of 10 tracks she’s written either words or music, or both) than usual, and in doing so perhaps like no other previous recorded album, Here We Go,1,2,3 represents her own, true voice.
And what a voice it is. Ironically, it’s perhaps best showcased on the album’s only cover song (another was recorded but not included on the final album), a heart-wrenching version of Natalie Merchant’s ‘Motherland,’ which pricks the hairs on the back of your neck. The unclustered production on Motherland allows Heidi’s voice to take centre stage and this is a feature of the whole album, where the instrumentation is beautifully employed to support and promote Heidi’s stunning vocal performance.
Though unmistakably a folk album, there’s a nice variety of musical styles on offer here from the jig ‘Time To Rest’ to the bluegrass psalm of ‘Tell Me Do You Ever Think Of Me’ and the country-tinged pop of ‘In The Year That I Was Born.’
The album was written over a couple of years but took only ten days to record and you can take a peek behind the scenes at Heidi’s recording studio by watching her video diaries via her youtube channel HERE
There are some very personal moments here, not least the excellent ‘Song For Rose (Will You Remember Me),’ written about the time when Heidi’s mum was sick and dying. Although written in grief, the song is emotionally uplifting and life-affirming rather than sorrowful or morose. Talbot’s daughter adds vocals in a touching tribute.
‘Chelsea Piers,’ is a song co-written with Duke Special (and apparently inspired by The Pogues) that recalls Talbot’s years in the US, where she sang in the New York based group Cherish the Ladies. It’s a languid and sentimental track, something that Duke Special excels at, but grounded by Heidi’s straightforward and honest vocal.
My favourite of the album’s ten tracks is the opener and title track which is inspired by an old gospel song. “I loved the idea of it being quite uplifting, of it not being a funeral hymn, even though it’s about death,” Heidi explains. It’s a song that I’d love to hear performed live. Sadly for North East fans, the nearest Heidi’s upcoming tour gets to our region is when it stops off at The Witham in Barnard Castle. It’s a great venue and perhaps the journey would be worthwhile but I for one am hoping that Heidi finds time to visit the North East in the not too distant future.
I started NE:MM as a magazine back in August 2013 and took it online in March 2014. I have always had a passion for music, and a desire to help popularise music of the type I loved. That led me to promote as 'The Outsider' and 'Common People' until recently and who knows, the promoter bug may bite again soon. As I age I find my own tastes developing and so my enthusiasm now extends to classical, jazz/funk and metal, whereas it used to sit squarely in the pop/indie/folk box. I hope it's infectious and through the efforts of the many volunteer contributors to NE:MM I hope it helps you find new music that you can feel passionate about too.