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O'Hooley & Tidow O'Hooley & Tidow
Album: Shadows
Label: No Masters
Tracks: 11

I've been doubly fortunate with the new O'Hooley & Tidow, "Shadows". Firstly I managed to hear it ahead of the game and immediately resolved to make it one of my albums of the week on my radio show and secondly I was able to get to the album launch for this one. The latter of those two was not entirely unique, the reason for that was that instead of this being launch to a select group of media luminaries and family and friends, "Shadows" was launched to a huge crowd with an allstar cast that included Jude Abbot, Michelle Stodart, Pete Flood and Andy Seward, all of whom feature on the album. (Yes I know it's September, didn't notice that review hadn't transitioned across to the live server. I could read it any time I liked, which doesn't really help you.)

It's funny how you can be influenced by a title and a sleeve, when I first pulled "Shadows" out of the envelope, I was expecting it to be quite a dark album, and it is in places, totally forgetting that in order to get decent shadows you need a decent amount of light, that it's the contrasts and the lines where they meet that give the definition.

The opening track, with an almost jaunty feel let you know that you need to keep any pre-conceptions at the door, hang your coat up and immerse yourself in the experiences and as per usual there is plenty of devil in the detail and plenty to explore, with songs carrying both local and universal theme, sometimes both. A good example would be "Beryl", a tribute to the exceptional, championship winning, world record holding Beryl Burton OBE, but as much a tribute to her inspirational value as her success and so O'Hooley & Tidow to focus on such a down to earth figure.

There are lots of words and phrases that make you think, sometime to the point where you may have missed the next verse, one of the reasons this album is so easy to return to, check out "Blanket" a song about orphaned elephants to get an idea of what I mean.

Ultimately this is both the best defined album that O'Hooley & Tidow have produced to date and may well be their most defining. I think a reason for that is that it's their most full bodied, even what it is just Belinda, Heidi and a piano, it feels richer than previous cuts, easier to get absorbed by, no mean feat in its self. It's an album that takes you atop a dale and challenges you to enjoy all you survey.

Neil King