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David Hershaw and Sandie Forbes David Hershaw and Sandie Forbes
Album: Here Comes Tomorrow
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 12

From the very first listen I was struck by the clever balance between an honest live sound and the larger scale arrangements afforded by the freedom of being in the studio. Where the additional instrumentalists add a wonderful texture and atmosphere, those songs that rest solely on the core duo still shine.

More than anything, 'Here Comes Tomorrow' has left me keen to hear the duo live. The vocal performance on tracks such as Raise a Glass to the Morning is heartfelt, and the refrain in this track is sung with an almost tangible sombre weight. I would love the chance to hear the inspiration behind these lyrics at a live show. This track is also one of many that showcases Forbes' skill in writing for strings, and the hymn-like layered part sits wonderfully against the guitar.

The string writing and fiddle play a much more prominent role in Comrade where the song bursts to life with compelling arpeggios and driving guitar. The vocals soar over this underpinning and there is a hint of Dylan in Hershaw's vocal.

Hershaw's voice sounds comfortable in a number of musical settings across the recording. We Are Not Children Any More has a distinctly Americana vibe along with New York City Rain, a track that paints a picture of a frenetic city. He sounds equally at home here as he does in songs that are much closer to home, including the Scotch dialect song Twaa Mares On A Mill.

It is a real treat to hear the two musicians duet on an equal footing in Old Wooden Heart. Here both show they are competent singers and storytellers in their own right whilst demonstrating the beautiful quality of their vocal harmony. The duo are clearly well matched.

Throughout the album, Forbes shows great sensitivity as an accompanist for the vocal line without sacrificing personality. In We Are Not Children Anymore her fiddle line sings out with subtle slides and ornaments without overcoming Hershaw's lyrics. The tone of the instrument breaks through and hints at her earlier training as the lines are simultaneously rich, vibrant and accurate. Owing to the production and engineering you can sense the weight of the bow sinking into the core of each string to draw out the full sound of the fiddle which helps Forbes match the full tone of the wonderfully captured guitar.

This album has been my first introduction to these skilled writers and performers and I'll continue to return to this impressively rich and diverse debut until the duo release their next collection.

Lee Cuff