Monday, May 04, 2015


Listening to BBC Radio 3 sometime last week I happened upon an interview with Olivia Chaney a (for want of a better word) 'folk' singer & multi-instrumentalist. Judging by her speaking voice & self-deprecating manner she seemed immediately charming & so I went ahead & ordered her debut CD (The Longest River).

It's good. A strange amalgam of sources & influences - Joni Mitchell (obviously), Kate Bush (surely), & then on to British folk traditions & beyond. She also arranges a song by Purcell for voice & guitar.

The CD package is intriguing, too - a photo of a young girl with her head on the shoulder of a man driving ... who are they? Then layered autumnal shots of leaves floating on water superimposed upon trees. &, of course, some snaps of Olivia herself managing to look authentically soulful & self-absorbed (no cheap sell-outs here). It's not ECM (a label she once listened to obsessively) but you can see how - with a bit of encouragement - it could be. Maybe that's a dilemma for her - shift outright into Euro jazz-inflected art music or tread a more populist path ...

Anyway, she goes straight into my personal Top Ten list of female vocalists alongside the likes of Bjork ... Helen Merrill ... Trish Keenan ... Sue Tompkins ... Julia Holter ... Cathy Berberian ...


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