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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
'The Bastard's Daughter' will be two years old by the time Janette Geri visits Britain again this spring but, along with a companion album of traditional and modern folk song covers ('Telling Tales'), this is the most recent recorded work available. Well, she's clearly quite a remarkable performer; self-produced and largely self-played, this is the work of someone who is really serious about her music, serious in the same way that Emmylou is serious: that is, absolutely determined to make her music as beautiful as possible.
Emmylou is not her template, however. Instead it is 70's era Joni Mitchell and John Martyn that seem to be source material for Janette's approach. This is jazz-tinged singer-songwriter territory and very beautifully done, too. She has a way with her acoustic guitar of weaving a web of sound - very much in John Martyn style - and when her opening line to the song High Country paraphrases John Martyn's opening lines to Over The Hill you appreciate that she's proud to acknowledge her heroes. This ability to create a soundscape from very sparse playing is a highlight of the final track, Oh Love, which is dedicated to her mother. This is music to close your eyes for; wistful, contemplative and dreamy, it's a six minute meditation that will carry you out of yourself and leave you feeling very calmed.
High Country has more attack about it, driven along by some punchy accordion playing whilst Rag and Bone Dream surprises by dissolving into a very William Orbit/Beth Orton drum and piano rhythm. Whether this sounds inadvisedly old hat I couldn't tell you, but I do like it and it certainly fits the song - life reduced to breathing in,out - in,out until the spirit revives and real life can begin again. The nine songs here are mature work, written in the wake of a retreat to the hills to find physical and emotional space; they absolutely couldn't be written by a twenty year old but should find some resonance with mid-lifers who recognise that need to step back, pause and take stock from time to time.
It's a pretty classy record, this 'Bastard's Daughter', music that's been put together with care and that deserves attentive listening.
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