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Elaine PalmerElaine Palmer
Album: Still Life
Label: Mill House
Tracks: 9

I reviewed Yorkshire born Elaine Palmer's last album "Show Me The Way" which I really enjoyed and was therefore keen to listen to and review the follow up.

Having performed and toured with artists such as Paolo Nutini, Emmylou Harris, Donovan, Damien Rice and Patty Griffin, it is clear that this is a lady of quality and pedigree. Elaine has received rave reviews for both her recorded work and her live performances and she is a truly gifted musician.

So I received the new album in the post and immediately played it. I have to now confess that after a number of listens I am still not really sure whether or not I like the new offering. Elaine is undoubtedly a superb lyricist and writes from the heart, I just have slight reservations about her voice. It most certainly offers emotion in bucket loads, at times it is bordering on conversational and is powerful enough, but for me it just lacks a bit of natural warmth. I am quite possibly alone in this opinion as she obviously has a strong following and has received some wonderful comments from other reviewers, but for me, this does not quite hit the mark.

The music is a fusion of folk and pop with some very haunting lyrics. I personally feel that Elaine's voice is better on the slightly upbeat numbers as, although her voice is soulful on the slower numbers, it can also become a bit too strained with emotion. The PR for the album states that the songs delve into the world of "lost souls" both past and present. With this in mind I would not expect an album full of joy and happiness but I personally find some of the tracks on here a little too maudlin for my tastes.

One of the wonderful things about the arts and music in particular is that you will very rarely listen to something that will be universally acclaimed and liked. That is what makes differing opinions so interesting and that is why I am certain that this album from Elaine will fit the bill perfectly for many listeners. It just does not do it for me. Sorry Elaine!

Conversely, I am fairly sure that this album played live in a club would work very well and I think I would probably enjoy it much more where the emotion of the artist can be witnessed and shared.

Rory Stanbridge