Proper Music [Release date 06.09.19]
Amy Speace is a “former Shakespearean-trained actor”, the ultimate objective of most actors is the pursuit of truth and her new album, ‘Me And The Ghost of Charlemagne’, is nothing if not truthful. From the outset Speace brings layers of candour and introspection, starting with a sparse ballad – accompanied solely by Danny Mitchell on piano; “And I’m out here on my own, trying to keep this thing on track”.
Neilson Hubbard’s production is subtle and unobtrusive; this isn’t faint praise as Speace’s vocal has a purity and yearning quality that requires the listener’s attention. ‘Grace of God’ is a plaintive story of perseverance and not suffering alone. Honky tonk guitar and backing harmonies from Kira Small, Lo Carter and Marcia Wilder mesh beautifully.
Elsewhere, Speace essays the role of perennial outsider in ‘Pretty Girls’; “Does it feel much different in their world? I wish I could have been a pretty girl”. This electric folk number is a cute fable about the folly of youth and the grass always being greener, calling to mind Barbara Dickson in its stark, haunting quality.
Speace is not afraid to pull her punches, and on ‘Standing Rock Standing Here’, in true Dylan-fashion, thinly veiled commentary on the current political climate creeps in as she swipes at “a stockholder President”.
The last track, ‘Kindness’ brings a pleasant circular quality to the album, as the simplicity of the solitary piano accompaniment returns. There’s an endearing uncertainty to Speace’s voice as she sings “may you know kindness and may kindness know you”, almost as if she’s trying to convince herself more than anyone else.
‘Me And The Ghost of Charlemagne’ always feels genuine, occasionally one wishes for a little propulsion amongst the wistfulness, but ultimately the album is an example of exquisite storytelling and expressive vocals. ***
Review by Phillip Beamon
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