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Sharon Lazibyrd Sharon Lazibyrd
Album: Opium Of The Masses
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 3

Sharon Lazibyrd has been steadily building a reputation for several years, from winning Best Folk Act at the South West Music awards in 2013 to a BBC Introducing residential in 2014, whilst recording a session for Bob Harris and touring across the UK and Ireland.

For all that, her recorded output so far has been limited to two singles available as digital download. That will change on March 24th when the third single will be released and all three will be available on an EP so you can finally have a physical copy if you so wish.

'Opium of the Masses' is the opening number and new single. It's very much a song for out times and could be applied to many things as we seek gratification and satisfaction from advertisers, marketeers or celebrity endorsements without knowing what we really want or need. The words ring true

"All that glitters is not gold
What we need not what we're sold
When we dream maybe we'll learn
Our happiness cannot be earned."

Sharon's strong yet simply presented voice suits the song well, as does the ukulele and accordion backing. The song also develops well as it progresses, with drums and piano being used to fill out the sound.

'What time is later?' has a touch of Kate Bush as Sharon allows her voice to range over the octaves in a way that brings an otherworldly sense to a song that asks a fundamental question; "what is time?" Opening with just the ukulele before the piano and viola come in it's a song inspired by her daughter asking that inevitable childish question, what time is later?

The final track, 'Not Blue', moves very definitely from childhood to adulthood. It's a song about taking control of your life, of shedding those things that will hold you back and Sharon imagined problems to be evil spirits that can be chased away. Again she allows her voice to range freely and it has to be said took a few hearings for me to get in to this song. It has a freedom of form so on first hearing you don't know what's coming next. But, if you take the time to listen to it and understand it then it becomes a very empowering song.

"No you won't have me, I'll be fine you see
I'm gonna chase you away, I'm gonna chase you away
No you're not gonna stay in my head"

This EP does exactly what it should. It introduces Sharon to an audience who have not been able to see her live before and demonstrates to the listener what she's capable of. She is an artist who doesn't fit a conventional mould with an original sound that makes her refreshingly different and worth listening to. There is full album "Half Shame and Half Glory, planned and on the basis of this EP it may well feature on several d├ębut album award nominations.

Tony Birch