Quick plays: JULIA FORDHAM (1988 reissue), UNDERHILL ROSE

JULIA FORDHAM

Cherry Pop [Release date 29.01.16]

Julia Fordham is one of those artists who could only really flourish in the 1980s when there were expansive label budgets, solid production values, and exposure on national radio.  Her exquisite blend of self-penned pop is perhaps best illustrated on this 1988 debut now given a new lease of life with bonus tracks and a bonus disc of live material (recorded by Radio Clyde in November 1988).

If greater success in the States never materialised, (a couple of alternate mixes here were intended for the US market) neither did enduring success in the UK although the follow-up album ‘Porcelain’ (also available in expanded form on Cherry Red) won more plaudits.

Julia’s jazz-inflected vocal style is easy on the ears and her register reminds me a little of Alison Moyet – also a child of the ’80s.  This self-titled debut is a little of its time but a reminder that here is an artist worth re-investigating.  She now lives in California although in recent years has occasionally toured in the UK, most recently celebrating the 25th anniversary of ‘Porcelain’.  ****

Review by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

UNDERHILL ROSE The Great Tomorrow [Release date 25.03.16]

Underhill Rose – a partnership of Eleanor Underhill (vocals / banjo), Molly Rose (vocals/ guitar) and Salley Williamson (bass and harmony vocals), stand just to the left of the Americana/mainstream crossover divide.

Formed by Underhill and Rose (naturally) in 2007 with Williamson joining 2 years later, the North Carolina trio struck a chord with their 2013 sophomore release Something Real which spent 22 weeks in the Americana Music Association Airplay Chart was named one of the top 100 albums of that year.

Kick starter funded, The Great Tomorrow – a charming blend of folk, old country, rhythm and blues, and bluegrass has already followed suit back home reaching the top 30 of the AMA charts.

Released in the UK to coincide with a brief UK tour (with further dates planned in the autumn), the purity of the vocals and a bewitching blend of playing mark Underhill Rose out from their contemporaries, with Underhill’s banjo playing and the subtle contributions made my Matt Smith on pedal steel, and Nicky Sanders on violin being particularly worthy of note.

Not yet aiming for Dixie Chicks territory (although give them time) The Great Tomorrow is a quality Americana release that will appeal to fans of Nickel Creek, and the like.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 26 July.. In the first hour David pays tribute to the blues/rock guitarist Peter Green.

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