Although Metanoia is Yvonne's eighth album, I've only come across her music twice before, with albums Ashes And Gold and More Than Mine. Her life-philosophy - "we can't necessarily solve all our problems but we can grow through them" is clearly expressed in her booklet note, and the confident, optimistic, hope-filled nature of her music bears this out.
For this latest collection, Yvonne has gathered together seven newly released (although not all newly composed) songs with five revisits of older songs from earlier albums. The latter gambit is logically signposted by Yvonne's choice of album title, for Metanoia is derived from the Greek word for "a new way of seeing". And yet there's also a strong sense of uniformity of expression and purpose here that's very beguiling, even though some of the reworkings bring a different complexion to the songs. And it's hard to imagine that this is the first appearance for some of the premièred songs here - one could almost swear having heard the breezy Everything's Fine and the somewhat anthemic Sweetest Freedom before - but at the same time the sombre She Survived The Winter has a strangely chilling aura that's also unforgettable in its own way and sports an imaginative textured and treated arrangement. Both Someday and All Is Not Lost originally appeared on Yvonne's 2009 Ashes And Gold album, and here these two tracks are also bedecked with programmed beats and electronica, as (to an even greater effect) is the even more memorable newer song Hope. And the world-influenced new setting for Farewell emphasises the timeless desperation of its economically-expressed sentiment. World/roots influences also rise to the surface on opening song Where The Poor Find Gold (it could almost be a latter-day Emmylou number, I thought). Impressionistic closing track Gigha, an honestly realised paean to the Scottish island of that name, is possibly the closest this album comes to folk expression, and surely mirrors its subject's beauty and rippling seascape.
I can't comment on all of the reworkings here, since I don't have access to all of the original albums, but Where Echoes End feels a touch over-arranged here. Even so, the consistently high quality of Yvonne's songwriting invariably shines through. In fact, right across this new collection I was puzzled anew that Yvonne's name hasn't hitherto enjoyed more of a profile, especially when I learn that she's been supporting Eddi Reader on tour, performed with Beth Nielsen Chapman and shared a stage with (among others) Patty Griffin, Karen Matheson and Karine Polwart. The mere fact that the UK singer-songwriter scene is mightily crowded these days should not deter the discerning listener from seeking Yvonne out. She's a gem.
|Zoe Mulford: Small Brown Birds||Various Artists: A Place To Dwell: Folk Musicians Support Southend YMCA|
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