Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dreaming with Beth Rowley

Little Dreamer is only Beth Rowley's debut album, but it's one heck of a debut, let me tell you. Unlike many of the ladies coming across the pond from England, Beth avoids the neo-soul track that seems to be popular lately (although other people claim to hear soul here...I miss it though) and instead hits a couple other genres, all almost equally well.

The album opens with Nobody's Fault But Mine, a oft-adopted traditional blues song that Beth takes as her own, turning into a slow burner whose smokiness makes it feel like she's lying across a piano (although there's no piano being played here) in a dark nightclub in a slinky number. Piano does make an appearance in the second number, Sweet Hours, a poppy upbeat track that reminds me of another female singer, Sia. A few tracks later she covers another well visited number, Bob Dylan's I Shall Be Released, and sticks with that same upbeat sound, adding almost a tropical island vibe to it.

Beth turns back to blues with Only One Cloud, but doesn't stay there long, switching to a hybrid of country and gospel with When the Rains Come. She returns to country and cover territory with a duet version with Duke Special of Willie Nelson's Angel Flying Close To The Ground that's very un-country and another cover of Almost Persuaded, where she comes closest to soul in my ears (although the piano accompanyment and back-up vocals make it more gospelish).

The album comes to a close with another Rowley original, the alluring You Never Called Me Tonight, and then another gospel number, the traditional Beautiful Tomorrow, which starts with a bluesy fassion that Beth seems to return to throughout the album and then soars with an accompanying backing chorus.

Although I've made it sound like a hodge podge of material, all of these songs taken together actually work really well and add up to a satisying debut package.

Visit her website, her label Verve Forecast, and become her friend on MySpace.


Blind Willie Johnson - Nobody's Fault But Mine : Praise God I'm Satisfied

Ben Harper - Nobody's Fault But Mine
: Please Bleed Single

No comments: