Casee WilsonCasee Wilson
Album: Here At A Distance
Label: Tiny Cat
Tracks: 13

Even if you didn't know that York-based singer-songwriter Wilson lists Kate Bush and Tori Amos among her influences, they would be hard not to spot on this, her third self-released and wholly self-performed and produced album. Indeed, 'Bitter Fruits' sounds like a splicing of the former's 'Wuthering Heights' and the latter's 'Silent All These Years'. That's an observation rather than a criticism, as is the fact that the spirit of both artists hover over many of the songs here, simply arranged piano ballads with occasional understated drum, often, as on the vocally soaring Silence of the Stars, harmonising with herself.

Her voice is as clear and pure as a stream, trickling through meadows or sometimes tumbling over mountain passes, drawing you into songs that variously address the vagaries of love (the downside on the happy ever after disillusionment of the witty 'Rubbish Fairy Tale' and the upside on 'Amazing') and the certainties of death (keyboard runs carpe diem opener 'Breathe'). However, while there may be moments of anguish, the lyrics are generally positive and defiant in the face of adversity, whether on 'Battlefield' with the courage of "a band of angry comrades" in the face of "the hounds of war" where she's joined by a clutch of backing singers or the anthemic "we are ready to shine" refrain of 'Shadows On The Sun' and the self-explanatory titled 'Learning To Fly' where she sings "no matter what is thrown at me I turn the other cheek and smile". On 'Thank You', with its repeated gratitudes chorus, even when she's been let down and left battered and bruised, she still finds strength from the experiences gained while, opening on ominous heavy piano notes, the tremendous 'Leave A Light On' moves from lost to found with a memorable chorus line of 'leave a light on so the angels can find me."

Compassionate on Windmills (it feels like a song about someone suffering from depression), she can be playful too, as evidenced on the skittering Scarlet Casanova's portrait of lothario as man with a knife serial killer ("He wants your heart, he wants your soul. But mostly just your heart, that's not a metaphor, no") with its jazzy scat vocalising accompaniment and album closer 'The Gin Song', an a capella paean to the juniper berry's allure sung as a round that consists almost entirely of a her repeating the word gin (occasionally adding lovely) and ending in a series of hiccups. She's a real tonic.

Mike Davies