Flyinshoes Review

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GEM ANDREWS —NORTH (Music Square Music)

Berlin-based, Liverpool-born singer-songwriter and a affinity to the North East of England Andrews has come a long way since I first heard her play support at a Jumpin’ Hot Club gig in Newcastle. Andrews’ songwriting has always impressed, but her vocals and poise has now also become a wonderful source of joy, as a greater beauty has joined the depth and passion of her work. 

Ever humble, as she learns her trade Andrews’ latest album offers the honesty and love for her fellow earthlings. The warmth of her reflections on life could well do with the contented found in her own life, and it doesn’t hurt to have a wonderfully talented set of players (in support) perform music sympathetic to her lyrics. 

Players on the record include Nicky Rushton, Sarah Van Jellie, Bernard Wright, Susanne Lambert (from the group, Mush), Chris Hillman, Ed Blazey plus harmony vocals from Sue McLaren and Charlie Hardwick. Sharp and clear throughout, Andrews has here a wonderful piece of work, the love and care put into the album is there for all to see, and likewise treasure.  

Andrews constant weaving of pretty melodies and evocative lyrics ensure the album eases by seamlessly. With more than its share of highlights, the listener is able to let their mind be taken to places she speaks of and on their return feel refocused. 

Songs topping my list include “Sing Your Song”, sweet sounding “Bare” and with a dash to it “Lungs”. Plus the spare and at first gentle “Feather & Skin”, and with it plied in tasty helpings of piano and relentless rhythm it dips deeper than most on the record (its orchestrated surges are of a kind to captivate any audience). On showing much artist flair, Andrews has also put music to Julia Darling’s poems, “Two Lighthouses” and with a gently swaying melody “Straight Lines”; the harmony vocals are as good as any on the record, and that says a lot!

On utilising more swirling pedal steel, and mandolin a country feel swamps genial playful ballad “Two By Two”. While with a greater edge still the listener can’t help but be blown away by Americana gem “Medicate”. Her vocals and instrumental work is top class, and if you are a fan of pedal steel you will droll over the playing. On returning to a more artful style as acoustic guitar, piano and vocal harmonies are her worthy partners Andrews performs a beautiful “Carole”. Before finally calling it a day with superb aversion of Kate McGarrigle’s jaunty, happy go lucky ditty “Come A Long Way".

      Maurice Hope 

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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
FS

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