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Ivy Sutherland Ivy Sutherland
Album: Set To Sail
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 8

Upon hearing the first few bars of "Set To Sail Too Soon" one conjures up images of sitting back in the lounge late at night, the music drifting out of the speakers with a glass of something warming to help quell the pressures of the day. However this CD is anything but soporific it is much more thoughtful than that. During the first track Ivy Sutherland takes us on a journey, a voyage even, through a world in which all is not as it should be. the song has plenty of nautical connotations, this boat built for two is facing stormy waters and the love within can never be. It seems to be a tale about not looking too far ahead and enjoying what you have right now. I do it all for you, though my knees are awfully weak. We thought we had it but we embarked on this journey too soon.

The next track of this eight number CD sets off with a gentle and intricate guitar riff. Ivy sings both lead and backing and plays all the instruments on it with the exception of drums, bass and electric guitar, and during the course it's playing we hear a great number of different acoustic sounds. "Cover to Cover" describes how a Lothario has been caught out by his partner finding his diary. Apart from some great multi tracked vocal harmony, there is some beautiful piano and (I think) trombone proving what a talented multi-instrumentalist is this North London girl.

"If We Start" has a Spanish sounding beginning but soon develops, into a 6/8 time plea, in effect, "do we really want to start this relationship, because if we do , we'll never stop." The listener never finds out if the anguish is resolved, but the story is fascinating.

We are moved in to symbolism with "The Elephant In The Room" It reminded me of current advert for workplace pensions in which a big friendly looking character is ignored by everyone, to the point whether we wonder if he is there at all. The elephant is question appears to be a ethereal being and more that somewhat abstract - best ignore him.

The dark scent of "Lavender" permeates the memory, now summer has gone, but you left me and want to come back. This is essentially the message of this song. But I have moved on so you missed your chance. Delicate guitar and the reeds of a concertina accompany the slow percussive tap of this gentle, slightly sad but determined song.

A more insistent beat and guitar arpeggio soon to be followed by the chirp of the concertina announces the arrival of another song which is heavy on symbolism. "The Albatross" around the neck of a wrongdoer is one which is going to bring retribution one way or another and it is the fault is no-one's but the transgressor. The sudden ending of this track emphasises the aggression directed at them.

A quieter more melancholy offering is "Broken Bones" seems be a guilt ridden reflection of the things I should have done for you but didn't. As you set to pass, the singer regrets the attention that should have been given but was lacking. Simple piano chords and the occasional crescendo with soft mallets on the cymbal give voice to the overall sadness of the song.

Track eight is a completely different proposition. It starts off with a Ska like beat but transforms into a Russian folk dance halfway through which typically increases in tempo until the last one standing is the winner. Here I am, I may be unsophisticated person, a statue hewn with blunt tools, but I saw through you, "The One That You Lost."

I have to say that this CD is one, to get the best out of it probably requires more that one listen, but the effort is well worth it. The skills and artistry that have been put into the production are substantial. The fact that all instruments (with the exceptions mentioned above) on the record are played by a single person is almost unbelievable. Ivy dubs the vocal harmonies so well, it is a pleasure to hear. During playing, I found I kept changing my mind which of the tracks I favoured most. I could tell you now, but answer might be different next week.

Tony Collins