sun 14/04/2024

Album: Heidi Talbot - Sing it for a Lifetime | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Heidi Talbot - Sing it for a Lifetime

Album: Heidi Talbot - Sing it for a Lifetime

A keeper of a break-up album

Confession and resolution from Heidi Talbot

As break-up albums go, Heidi Talbot’s new set knocks that tightly wound ball of heartbreak, separation and release into the front rank, on an arc of often beautifully melodic self-penned songs, choice covers, and accompanists including guitarist Mark Knopfler and fiddle player, singer and the album's producer Dirk Powell.

After more than a decade of marriage and musical collaboration with fiddler John McCusker, Sing it for a Lifetime finds Talbot negotiating the rapids of that union’s end. The title song opens the album with a beguiling melody carrying hard-won words that speak of their separation and her new life, set to a deft country-Celtic Americana backing, resonant of her earlier work, and featuring her two daughers on backing vocals. It was written, she says, in 15 minutes after walking in the rain near her home in Edinburgh. Dirk Powell, who first worked with her 20 years ago on her debut, 2002’s Distant Future, would later tell her it was in her all along. As such, these songs spill out at you fully formed and finely spun.

Created during the musical close-down brought by the pandemic, the original plan to record with Powell in Louisiana fell by the wayside. In its place, there was a series of remote real-time from-home sessions spread over two different time zones, 3,000 miles, and corralling an international group of musicians that also included Scottish fiddler Seonaid Aitken and Dire Straits keyboardist Guy Fletcher alongside Knopfler and Powell, all coalescing to carry her words of confession and resolution into the recesses of the heart.

Talbot's distinctive vocals are set against an easeful amalgam of Celtic and Country, without sugaring the sharpness. Alongside the bold honesty and intimacy of “I Let You Go”, addressed to her former husband, there’s a fine cover of Willie Nelson’s “There You Are” Knopfler’s guitar, while Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” is draped over a strings and a pared-down rhythm section. Dolly Parton’s rocking, straight-talking “When Possession Gets Too Strong” nails the urge to move on from adversity. This is Talbot's seventh solo album, and it's a keeper.

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