Album review: CRYSTAL GRENADE – Lo! And Behold

CRYSTAL GRENADE - Lo! And Behold

Gonzo [Release date 14.10.13]

A wonderful name, Crystal Grenade.  One that belongs to Mancunian songstress Carol Hodge, described as ‘Shakespears Sister fighting Amanda Palmer and Tori Amos in a dimly lit Victorian pub’.  If that conjures up images of heavily smeared make-up, heavy petticoats, and heaving bosoms then this debut album from a character created by the seven fingered pianist is the perfect soundtrack.

Exploring the dark side of life in the late 1800s – fragile beauty mirrored by the freak show, the set has been recorded with the aim of capturing as live as possible the raw emotion of Grenade’s vocal performance that twists tales of regret, malfeasance, and death.

With a background in punk, working with Steve Ignorant on his Last Supper world tour, Grenade’s engaging torch vocals fall somewhere between Tori Amos and Hazel O’Connor and work perfectly with the sparse piano accompaniment.

Quirky enough to merit a Jools Holland appearance, Lo! And Behold is rather hypnotic and difficult to dismiss.  Absorption in a single sitting may prove challenging, but digested in bite sized chunks it’s well worth exploring for those who with a weakness for impassioned female pianists.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


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