Shake The Tree
added: 31 May 2012
// release date: 18 Jun 2012 // label: ADA/Warner Music
reviewer: David Spencer
For her second album New York’s Nell Bryden says she wanted a more expansive and cinematic sound, describing a need for an epic atmospheric and rootsy feel. In search of this she has teamed up with Grammy winning producer Mark Taylor, who has worked with the likes of James Morrison and Lady Gaga.
In fact Taylor’s presence is evident almost immediately on the opening single Building and Treetops, which has a worrying connection with Cher’s awful 90s number one Believe, which Taylor was at the helm of. Perfect for radio, the song is a touch poppy for Bryden’s vocal, which deserves better than this kind of middle of the road fare.
Much better suited is the classy Sirens, where the shadow of 9-11 looms large on an emotional journey that achieves Bryden’s goal of sounding moody and visual. At times there are shades of Sam Brown to Bryden’s vocals and her opera training really shines through. The bluesy feel of Fingerprints is such an example, whereas there is more than a whiff of Judie Tzuke on the soothing Downtown Lullaby.
Bryden’s close attachment to the military comes from a chance meeting with a US Army colonel, which has since seen her do work with the forces in both the UK and America, becoming a bit of a forces sweetheart. That work is reflected in the beautiful Echoes, which describes being away from home for long periods of time: “I see a lonely desert rose, in this land where nothing grows and think of you and the world beyond the wire.”
While written and recorded in the UK, there is a definite flavour of Bryden’s home city throughout. Not just lyrically but in the richness of sound. This is a step forward from her debut and when she ramps up through the gears, like on the opening Mercy On Me, it is impressive but some of the songs sail too close to the wrong side of safe.
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