Reviews

Moira Smiley & VOCOMoira Smiley & VOCO
Album: Laughter Out Of Tears
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 17
Website: http://moirasmiley.storyamp.com

Before I get into the review, a couple of clarifications; the 17 tracks is 15 tracks proper and an intro and outro and that whilst later on I'm going to be talking about the natural, almost organic sound, ok I've done it here, this is an album that wouldn't have been possible without the internet, so I guess this really is a world music album.

The reason is that five of tracks feature the Choir Of You, a collection of vocalists from around the world who contributed to the album, by downloading guide tracks, following the instructions as to how to their vocals to it and then mailing it back to Moira Smiley and producer David Weber who had the joy of pulling the voices together. So was it all worth it, undoubtedly and unqualifiedly yes. You can feel the passion of the singers really coming through on the tracks and if I hadn't ruined the illusion for you, you might have even believe they had got everyone to same time, same place.

This is the third VOCO album, though the first one to come across my doorstep and the chase is on for the other two. The original VOCO was a five piece, expanded to eight for this album, but "Laughter Out Of Tears" continues to follow the pattern of drawing on American and European folk traditions and applying a multi-vocal approach to them, enhanced occasionally by instrument to increase a sense of drama as and when required.

As well as original and traditional tracks there are a couple of really exceptional covers here. I don't think I'm ever going to hear Woody Guthrie's "Deportee" the same way again, similarly Gillian Welch's "Orphan", basically Moira Smiley have carried out a smash and grab raid on both songs and made them theirs.

Despite the diverse nature of the influences, the album really does hold together well as an entity, the quality of the voices really binding the album together, "Laughter Out Of Tears", smiles of enjoyment.

Neil King

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