Sarah Jane Morris is arguably most remembered for her pipe-belting performance on The Communards’ 1986 chart-smash ‘Don’t leave me this way’. However, since those heady days Morris has released fifteen solo albums that traverse a range of elements: jazz, pop, rhythm & blues, soul, 2014’s Africa-dedicated ‘Bloody Rain’ and a folk tribute to John Martyn in 2019. No rest for the committed.

Her new long-player out on the appositely named Fallen Angel label, ‘The Sisterhood’ is suitably released on International Women’s’ Day and is an artistic nod to her myriad influences, aesthetically, politically, vocally.

Ten sonic salutes to trailblazers, path-forgers and cultural cornerstones Morris herself terms her ‘lodestars’: Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, Annie Lennox, and Kate Bush.

However, rather than straight-out cover renditions that simply mimic or lazily rehash, Morris in collaboration along with husband Mark (on lyrical structures) and long-time co-writer/co-producer Tony Rémy has crafted an album that creatively channels the chosen artist’s essence, effervescence and enduring resonance. Fembodiment, if you like.

From the song titles to the ambience within the music, these are in affect (re)capsules of a past of powerful her-story telling, in effect fashioning tributary and contemporary sounds that are ‘newstalgiac’.

Unlike say, Mark ‘the modern-day Mantovani’ Ronson, this doesn’t feel anachronistic or going through the (e)motions, echoes ring round, but the power of the NOW abounds. . In the context of today’s tech-treated tonsil-theatrics and AI-rendered robo-recitals, Morris’s tender trails, worshipful wails and heartfelt hails are all-too-welcome tales.

The titular ‘Sisterhood’ opens matters. Divining inspiration from Aretha ‘Queen of Soul’ Franklin it’s a funk-gospel hip-shaker. ‘Couldn’t be without’ is a straight-up sermon addressed to ‘Queen of Blues’ Bessie Smith. Morris biographically giving voice to one of the templates of recorded music and recounting a life hardened yet driven forwards by its tribulations no matter the price.

Likewise ‘Tomorrow never happens’ pays testament to Janis Joplin’s majesty and tragedy, fusing life and strife, remembered as a ‘shooting star came down to Earth for loving freedom’s pain’. Only in her untimely death did her prominence become so pronounced.

‘Rimbaud of Suburbia’ connects the French libertine and symbolist to Kate Bush. Two teenage prodigies, two preternatural prophets, two prose and conceptualists. The overall sound is a melange of orch-pop and aural avant-gardening amongst illusions of illumination. Et voila!

‘The Sisterhood’ is a wonderful walk down memory lane, a wistful wander through past mistresses’ magnificence and sadly a depressing reminder of oppression, suppression and repression. Morris rights wrongs and sets thing straight in style.