The collaboration of Heather Wastie and Andy Middleton began in the mid-1970s, whilst attending Birmingham University and the listening pleasure of this moment in time is reflected in this musical and lyrical balm.
Wastie’s voice is so very reminiscent of Joni Mitchell at times– distinctive as the dawn chorus – both emotive and soothing. The opening track Voice on the Radio resonates with Mitchell’s voice: fluctuating between the singsong and the raising falsetto. The rising crescendo of the Billy Joel-esque piano is the ideal intro and accompaniment for her voice. And “I am not kidding” -writing this album must have been therapeutic for the duo.
Holding a Candle allows the listener to appreciate the cynical view of love never being free –“so keep it at bay.” The effortless singing lulls the listener into believing the song is a love song when the opposite is being articulated. A protest song of unrequited love and the ensuing pain. The “strings” had a musical texture to soothe but the pain is palpable.
The vulnerability of “To You I Turn” is captured in the line: “you held my heart in your palm please don’t let it come to harm.” The honest and openness of the declaration of love is coruscating. The symbolism of the “candle” of desire being replaced by the “fire” of blazing love is both simple and complex. Moreover, the notes of Middleton’s guitar solo mirror the palpitation of the heart in a heightened state of love – reflecting the unbridled emotive response of the lyrics. As we know there is no cure…
The folksy quality of “Love is a Lady” is carried along by Alan Murray’s voice; the assured authority of his voice is reassuring. Our snug-bar balladeer offers a very male version of love with the emotion being portrayed as gender specific. Is this the voice of experience telling its truth I wonder?
There is something pleasing and medicinal about the recorder – for many the first introduction of music at school – a cheap and versatile instrument which can evoke old-English soundscapes and also form a whimsical contemporary effect. The recorders conflicting identity is used to great effect in “Sad Girl Solo”. The juxtaposition of contrasting words and phrases in track 7: spotlight the aforementioned character’s indecision, anxiety and social-awkwardness.
The laid back confessional delivery of “You Turn Me Over” is reminiscent of Lilly Allen and is proof our musical duo are not stuck in the 70/80s. The jazz-lite track is complimented by the saxophone of Cat Evison – resulting in a Scorsese-tinged soundtrack of model simplicity. One can imagine the closing credits rolling as the camera pans in from above in downtown New York.
Animatedly, “Partyline” declares you can have a “good time with me”. The upbeat lyrics extoll the carefree nature of someone not hindered by the boundaries of monogamist love but willing to just enjoy life -“which has advantages, I’m sure we can all agree.” Agreed, the voice allows the listener to relish the Wastie’s voice in another guise. As a whole the album self-confidently portrays the whole spectrum of the singer’s vocal repertoire. Just what the Dr. ordered!
Opening with a single note of the piano, the closing track contrasts markedly with the previous track. Conversely, the tenderness of the lyrics suggests a life-time of experiences of unsatisfying affairs. The declaration of “I don’t want you to love me, just care enough to hold me” wrong-foots the listener as we realise the central character has lowered his /her expectations of their current lover. “Don’t just Walk Away” explores a relationship that is based on, well you decide…
You may not be able to get this album on prescription but it is available from the Moulin Ridge bandcamp page.
Released: 7th of February 2022
By: The Swilgate Scuttler