Album review: EMILY MAGUIRE – Bird Inside A Cage

Emily Maguire - Bird Inside A Cage

GRTR! only ‘discovered’ British born singer songwriter Emily Maguire with the release of her third album – ‘Believer’ – in 2009.  As a calling card it was a sufficiently strong hand to make me browse her back catalogue and the real jewel to be unearthed is her magnificent debut album ‘Stranger Place’ (2004) – a sparsely instrumented collection of laid back songs recorded in Queensland, Australia which have a wonderfully earthy groove.

Classically trained on piano, cello, recorder and flute, a trip that started as a backpacking trip led to an invite to the Borderline festival in London, but Emily retreated to her new Aus base turning her hand to organic goat’s cheese production to finance her 2nd album ‘Keep Walking’ (2006).

Returning to play the Cambridge folk festival in 2007, fate deal another card when a fan sent a copy of her album to the BBC, and subsequent Radio 2 airplay was picked up on by the Waterboys manager who signed her up to support a 16 date tour by Don Mclean.  Dates with luminaries such as Paul Brady, Eric Bibb, The Blue Nile, Glen Tilbrook and Roddy Frame followed.

‘Believer’ recorded in London, won rave reviews and had two singles play listed on Radio 2.  A seven month tour with Dennis Locorriere, the former lead singer of Dr Hook, gave her the chance a give it an extensive live airing and win over new fans.

And so, on to ‘Bird Inside A Cage’- an album financed by her fans following a direct video appeal, and one that sees Emily’s sound continue to evolve.  While numbers like ‘North And South’ have a direct line of sight back to her debut, her vocals have taken on a more ethereal quality with greater focus on the upper end of her range, while producer Nigel Butler (one of the producers on X Factor) has created cinematic soundscapes that complement Emily’s own string arrangements.

It pushes her overall sound more into the mainstream arena occupied by the likes of Sarah McLachlan and sees Emily treading that delicate tightrope that balances singer songwriter and pop sensibilities.   And if you get a chance, check out her debut album as well.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


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