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Amy GoddardAmy Goddard
Album: Secret Garden
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 14
Website: http://www.amygoddardmusic.co.uk

Amy Goddard is a singer-songwriter based in Hampshire, but originally hailing from Wales. Secret Garden is her sophomore album, following on from "Burn And Glow", the album that first brought her to my attention and which lead to an invite to appear on the Fatea Showcase Sessions.

In the intervening period there have been a number of singles, including, towards the end of last of last year, a preview of part of the album, via "Gladdie", a single that reflected a story of her Grandma and World War One. So there you have the helicopter view of the history that brings us to this point, but what about the future?

From where I'm sitting and listening, it looks bright. "Secret Garden" is an album that is blessed with contrasts and depths that really stand up to frequent exploring and whilst, at times there is a waif like quality to some of the songs, there is also an underlying strength that suggests that the narrative is very much in the don't mistake my kindness for weakness camp and that if the trust is betrayed there not only can there be consequences, there will be.

Both folk music and the wider net of singer-songwriter, particularly when they are observational, tend to pick up on the darker side of life, the people impacting events, the heart string tuggers, it's a human nature thing, the real trick is not to make it mawkish or even twee, the latter being a particularly deadly sin, and it's a trap that Goddard very neatly sidesteps when writing some of her more personal songs. You feel drawn into the song to feel the circumstances, rather than bathe in melancholy.

Similarly, the more historical based songs that draw on history, geography and a death or two have a solid narrative to them, a story to be enjoyed. In "The Maiden's Leap" it provides a counter balance with that all too rare thing, a folk song with a happy ending. It's things like that that really give "Secret Garden" an edge and distinction in what is a crowded sector of the music industry.

Amy Goddard has a real connection with her music, even when she hasn't written it herself, as with the signoff track, Bruce Springsteen's great folk song, "Dancing In The Dark", voice and interpretation make it very much her own. In "Secret Garden", Goddard has created an album that takes you through an emotional adventure, across both historical and conventional themes, but one that allows you to dip and enjoy the odd song, definitely an album that encapsulates that modernist term sustainability, this one should be about for years.

Neil King