"Hard Time For The Dreamer"
Remember back in the late nineties there was a female pop duo named Alisha's Attic? They had a fine line in quirky songs, including the mega-catchy "I Am I Feel", an example of pop music that is both credible and actually good to listen to. Since then sisters Karen and Shelly Poole have concentrated on writing music for others â until now. It might be seen as jumping on the bandwagon of female singer-songwriters currently enjoying success (think Tunstall, Melua), but younger sibling Shelly has released her debut solo record â and what a splendid treat it is.
"Hard Time For The Dreamer" comprises of ten honest and introspective songs set to stripped-down music and a voice that has been absent from music for far too long. Beautiful and soft acoustic melodies breeze along as Poole ponders aspects of love and loss, exemplified no better than in the opening title track. Her versatile voice is utilised to full affect as spoken verses are interspersed with dreamy tones in a catchy chorus â it's hard not to be hooked already. "Out In The Open" has similar qualities, while love ballad "Don't Look That Way" has touches of "White On Blond" era Texas.
Poole also shows that she is no one trick pony by adding some groove to "Totally Underwater", an immensely chilled out track. The appearance of an electric guitar solo during "Lost In You" is also surprising, and adds to what is already a superb song, but the true masterstroke is drafting in Jack Savoretti to duet. "Anyday Now" unfolds as a conversation between lovers who miss each other against the backdrop of a gently strum acoustic guitar, but it is the vocal performances which dominate. Savoretti's voice is as rich as Poole's, and they compliment each other perfectly on one of many highlights of this album. It is difficult to categorise "Hard Time For The Dreamer" generically, but it matters not â it is a stunning piece of work.
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