A Cumbrian singer,
Aerosmith’s producer, recording in the legendary Laurel Canyon – it all makes for an interesting and eclectic mix
Ms Davidson is the possessor of a beautiful voice that recalls the heavenly, breathless beauty of Emmylou Harris at her finest, certainly not a bad thing by any means. The story of this album begins in a Carlisle music shop, moves to a famous recording location and ends up with a fine album of excellent folky songs, enhanced by fine musicians and terrific vocals.
The album kicks of with Beneath Our Feet and Elaine’s voice soaring above a plaintive guitar, it’s a fine scene-setter, highlighting the subtleties of the musicians with Laurence Blackadder’s double bass kicking the song along gently with Danny Hart’s banjo rattling along in the background. That’s followed by the title track Can’t Tell The River that begins with the double bass delivering a Danny Thompson-like strut recalling those early John Martyn albums. Elaine’s vocals glide through the ethereal lyric as a gorgeous fiddle, from (again) Danny Hart, dances elegantly through the mix. It has an almost jazzy feel as we are gently warned that we ‘Can’t tell the river which way to flow/ Can’t tell a flower how to g row.’ There’s a beautiful melody, with the musicians again keeping a subdued low profile that helps to enhance the songs gentle spring feeling.
There’s not much of a change in tempo across the 13 songs on show here but there’s a warm feeling that is enhanced by producer Warren Huart’s light touch. Hart has produced records by Aerosmith and James Blunt so he clearly has a golden touch. Cumberland is a beautiful evocative song with some fine fiddle player that calls to mind the rolling Cumbrian hills whilst Glory Wings is a beautiful ode to nature and the setting free of the things you love. The tempo kicks up a couple of notches with a terrific uplifting tune, Haste Ye Back, that has the singer calling out over the fells, urging
her love back to her arms. It’s full of yearning as she sings ‘When you tire of wanderlust, tire of strangers faces/ Find your heart yearning for old familiar places/…Haste ye back.’
The highlight for me is the lilting and gentle Don’t Go (The Parting) with a lost but steely, determined vocal that tells of loss and misery with a gentle violin and a lyric that evokes a winter landscape and true desolation of the heart. A song for a lonely approaching winter that paints a grim future mired by a lost love.
This is an excellent, if low key, affair with Davidson’s fine voice very much to the fore alongside a fine set of songs that will help to keep your warm at night. Lovely stuff. Greg Johnson
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