This striking album is a collaboration between singer songwriter Sheila K Cameron and John Saich and Mags Russell of Wild Biscuit from the west coast of Scotland. In 2016 they collaborated on a small album called MORE LIKE A RIVER THAN A ROAD, these songs were associated with the Tlell River on Hai Gwaii in Canada. These tracks, with a selection of later collaborations make up RIVER TO SEA FROM TLELL TO TIREE. The title documenting Sheila's journey from the coast of Canada to Tiree, an island off the coast of Scotland where the track 'All You Really Need is the Sea' was written.
Sheila K Cameron is probably best described as a folk blues singer. She has the sharply observing, descriptive eye of the classic singer songwriter troubadour and while her voice is given gravitas and character by time, she swings and has the timing of the blues singer. At times, particularly against the piano of ' The House with the Windows' she has the warm intimacy of Mary Coughlan. Wild Biscuits musical accompaniment give Sheila's characterful voice real depth and presence. The menacing guitar on 'I've Waited A Long Time' and the atmospheric Double Bass and keyboards on 'Where The Pebbles Grind And Scrape' compliment Cameron's lyrics and singing. Her timing, stately delivery and use of personal imagery to start to look at the bigger issues, moving from the micro to the macro on the wonderful 'Last Night I Dreamed About Doris Lessing' reminded me of Leonard Cohen. Another gem is 'Sometimes', a tiny observed moment, wafted on a beautiful uncredited alto Saxophone, becoming a perfect piece of poetry. 'Remembering Mr Toast' is an atmospheric and evocative, less bombastic or overblown Scottish Jim Morrison, finding real beauty in a melancholic memory. If Ivor Cutler had recorded The Lizard King's AMERICAN PRAYER it might of sounded something like this. 'Where The Last Tide Runs' is a folky lullaby perfectly delivered that closes the Tlell River set of songs. The Tiree Sea set of more traditionally structured songs starts with 'On The Road To Haida Gwaii', a late Johnny Cash like Americana ode to the Canadian archipelago and 'Another Dream' with a superb onomatopoeic representation of a train. The delicate hesitant guitar and reflective lyrics continue on 'Don't Sigh' and 'Go on then', beautiful, bitter sweet country love songs. 'All You Really Need is the Sea' and 'Deep and Real' are spiritual songs, again moving between an intimate relationship to consider the huge landscape and the restorative natural world. Wild Biscuit layer understated music around Sheila's words. 'Moxie Blues' is a more stirring, stirring blues with a slithering beat, wonderful layered vocals and a slippery electric guitar. Moxie, the Oxford dictionary says is 'force of character, determination or nerve'. On the basis of these songs, delicate and spiritual with integrity, Id say Sheila K Cameron has it in spades. Closer 'My Love is Velvet' is a stripped back intimate lullaby.
Is it Blues, Country, Easy Listening, Folk or Poetry set to delicate sympathetic music. In essence, it doesn't matter, close your eyes listen to Sheila's rich voice, its cadence and rhythm, enjoy the flow of words and the pictures they conjure on this warm and captivating set of recordings.
|Velvet & Stone: Velvet & Stone||Lucy Kitt: Stand By|
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