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Amber Cross Amber Cross
Album: Savage On The Downhill
Label: Two Red Doors
Tracks: 10

I am a glutton for a feast of great music and that's why, shamelessly, I've been gorging on this brilliant album of late and only now finding the time to be kind enough to share it with you.

Amber Cross has created a record that is rich in authentic wonders. It is cleverly varied, deftly produced (Ray Bonneville, take a bow) and performed with such fervour and emotion that is just breathtaking.

Each and every composition forms a glorious, beautiful, heartfelt celebration of Amber Cross' love and respect for nature and the wilderness, where honesty and matter- of-fact attitudes prevail, alongside hardship and personal failures.

She has translated this atmosphere and attitude into a faultless collection of songs that though unfussy, shine brightly with depth and understanding and passion.

It's full of moments that are warming and utterly beguiling with the marvellous Pack Of Lies offering up all you could possibly want in an opening roots track - flowing country bump supplied by an ace band plus captivating, dust-tinged vocals with outstanding lyrics that make you gasp.

These, for goodness sake, are the first lines on the album: "I'm caught up in a pack of lies / Barking dogs rule the moonless night / Pretending to love is a wicked game / I made this bed where I lay in the shame."

The effects of life on various people also haunt the album. The jaunty pace of Tracey Joe cannot muffle the sad reminiscences and travails of a mother seeking solace from her child after numerous let downs: "Sing me to sleep Tracey Joe / So your mama don't feel so all alone / Shut the door, turn out the light / Tell me again it's going to be alright." It's a gorgeous song that would hush a rowdy bar on a Friday night, no problem.

On Echoes, with off-spring having grown up and flown the coop, the effects on a couple's relationship are laid bare in imploring fashion with Amber's singing taut yet tender: "I swear you ain't the one I said my vows to / But you do look like someone I used to know." Heartache simply displayed, hand-crafted in a cherished way.

The powerful, declaratory title track has a menacing air, revealing the writer to be hunting. Who, exactly, is not clear? "I can feel you out there moving through the dark / Feeding on my fear like the scavenger you are / Did you think I'd stay here in your nightmare dream / This is the last time that you will ever bother me." The backing is swirling, gentle guitar licking the words while an insistent bass drum beats out to the warnings she refers to.

The "Savage" is a brand of hunting rifle and the phrase "Savage on the Downhill" refers to "how a tracker should hold a rifle so as not to bury the barrel into the dirt when side-hilling or climbing down an incline." It's an evocative picture in a simply stunning three minutes 51 seconds.

This is a sublime, noble, sensitive and gripping album - Gurf Morlix and Tim O'Brien are on board as well - that's got classic stamped all the way through because of its endless, earthy glow, riveting tales and downright magic.

I actually burst into applause when it came to an end. Amber Cross has given us an album to savour.

Mike Ritchie