by / November 19th, 2009 /

Kate Walsh – Light & Dark

 3/5 Rating

(BluePie Records)

This being her third album in seven years, you couldn’t accuse Kate Walsh of being prolific compared to many of her peers. She has, however, changed her style over time. This release is far more country rock than the jazzier pop of Tim’s House, yet it still retains the beautifully constructed vulnerability of both her previous works.

The fragile singer songwriter (a la Joni Mitchell) is still present but, if anything, this album builds on it with aspects of alt-country and Gram Parsons, complete with all the inherent self doubt and insecurities. The most apt example of this is -Trying’, back-to-back with the stringed ballad -June Last Year’, both of which would give Sheryl Crow a run for her money. Walsh has a great register of classic influences, from Neil Young and Joni Mitchell to Dinah Washington and Louis Armstrong, but at points her own lyrics are a bit more simplistic (-I Wish I could be there, I’d cut off all my hair’ on -Gather My Strength’). Overall there are some well arranged strings, especially on the fuller sounding and AOR radio friendly -Seafarer’ and the sing-along spirit of the chorus to -Be Mine’. There’s a theme of old-love-gone-bad throughout the album. This includes a fascinating and scathing attack on a former partner (-You’ll never make music of your own’¦ and the money you make from my dreams you can just take it all’). We do not know if this is based on personal experience or is just the exercising of song writing licence.

There are a couple of highlights. -As He Pleases’ deals with the emotional hurt of a relationship, while -I Cling On For Dear Life’ is a similar subject, but in a beautifully frail higher register. These, as well as the title track, are well worth a listen, but overall the album lacks anything to bring it above the mediocre -delicate singer-songwriter’ category.

Kate Walsh: Live at Tim’s House – Gather My Strength from LowFatFilms on Vimeo.

To hear selections from this album in coming weeks and more innovative arrangements of traditional songs tunes into That’s All Folk on Dublin City FM 103.2 Thursday 11-30am.

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