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Nancy Elizabeth - Battle and Victory CD (album) cover


Nancy Elizabeth


Prog Folk

4.00 | 2 ratings

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4 stars While NANCY ELIZABETH could be classified as a modern "wyrd folk" artist, on this 2007 debut she seems to pay more attention to her English roots than many of that set, while even her mildly oddball nature takes its cues as much from JONI MITCHELL as from modern vapour queens. But mostly she is herself on these sparsely arranged yet atmospheric voice and Celtic harp pieces complemented by a plethora of supporting instrumentation.

The first 5 tracks unfold as an introspective masterpiece, kick started by the unassuming opener with its cello- washed harp and heartfelt vocals, "I Used to try" is positively rambunctious by comparison, heavily strummed guitar laying a blanket for Elizabeth and more dour stringed accompaniment. "Off with your Axe" might be the most accessible thanks to a nostalgic melody on guitar and surprisingly muscular bass, while "The Remote Past" is is hauntingly alluring. The Eastern European flavoured "Coriander" showcases Elizabeth's versatility in interfacing with a rogues' gallery of musicians and their pets, like Luke Das Gupta's trumpet and flugelhorn.

Unfortunately, the remaining 8 tracks are more uneven, even if the astonishing "Hey Son" brings to mind a 1990s group produced by Joe Boyd called HANK DOGS, as it segues from seeking to seething and culminates with aggressive electric guitars. "Lung" could almost be an early WHITE WILLOW number in all the best ways, while the title track, if not an unqualified success, shows Elizabeth taking the long road and emerging fortified. She also includes a few provocative instrumentals, like the ambient "What is Human", but the drifting "Electric" and "Weakened Bow" rather stall the momentum gained earlier by appearing to stuff her lyrical messages into any old arrangement, like when you try to sing your favourite poem for the first time. Nonetheless, this is an accomplished debut by a new voice, to be nurtured and hopefully emerge victorious in a cramped and not especially lucrative battlefield. Rounded up because one of the credits is a purring cat!

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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