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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September 2018

1
The Devil Makes Three
70 pts.
Chains Are Broken
New West
FC,JB,RK,TJ,LK
2
Jimmy LaFave
65 pts.
Peace Town
Music Road Records
PKO
3
Malcolm Holcombe
48 pts.
Come Hell Or High Water
Gypsy Eyes Music
FB,JBO
4
Cody Canada & the Departed
47 pts.
3
Blue Rose Records
CVL,DHO
5
Jeffrey Foucault
43 pts.
Blood Brothers
Blueblade Records
MB,SZ
6
The War And Treaty
42 pts.
Healing Tide
Thirty Tigers
FCE,AL,MG
7
Martha Fields
40 pts.
Dancing Shadows
Independent
SP,DH,RST,RW
8
The Weight Band
35 pts.
World Gone Mad
Must Have Music
DD,CRS,BM
9
David Olney
32 pts.
This Side Or The Other
Black Hen Music
LM
 
The Black Sorrows
32 pts.
Citizen John
Blue Rose Records
 
11
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis
31 pts.
Wild Wild Wild
Bloodshot Records
GS
12
Hadley McCall Thackston
28 pts.
Hadley McCall Thackston
Wolfe Island Records
 
 
Nathan Bell
28 pts.
Er Gwaetha Pawb a Phopeth
Angry Stick
PK
14
Curse Of Lono
26 pts.
As I Fell
Submarine Cat Records
MM,JF
15
Ryan Martin
25 pts.
Gimme Some Light
High Moon
 
 
Stephen Simmons
25 pts.
Gall
Locke Creek Records
TK,HDB
17
Jason McNiff
23 pts.
Joy And Independence
At The Helm Records
 
 
Jim Lauderdale
23 pts.
Time Flies
Yep Roc
 
 
Kevin Gordon
23 pts.
Tilt and Shine
Crowville Media
MP
20
Eliza Gilkyson
21 pts.
Secularia
Red House Records
KG,JJC
21
Boz Scaggs
20 pts.
Out Of the Blues
Concord Records
BH,JSM
 
Lucero
20 pts.
Among The Ghosts
Thirty Tigers
JJ
 
Melissa Carper & Rebecca Patek
20 pts.
Brand New Old-Time Songs
Independent
MW
24
The Jayhawks
17 pts.
Back Roads and Abandoned Motels
Legacy
 
25
Lori McKenna
16 pts.
Tree
Cn Records

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