Allie Fox's voice is heartbreakingly pristine on tracks such as Joe Louis Blues. Fox is also an extremely imaginative guitar picker and visibly grows from her folk club roots during these warm accessible compositions .a beautiful debut album.
Allie Fox comes touted as a middling veteran Fair Isle and finger-in-the-ear figure with rave reviews from folk-rootsy sources. Yet her solo debut doesn't fit the genre at all. Further, it could surprise everyone and make her rich. What she has written is a set of pop songs with pleasant tunes and generalised love lyrics which are just the job for bravura belting by some MOR diva such as Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. Time for the family publishing firm, Fox & Fox Music International, to get marketing.
...Rise and Shine swings beautifully, I Was Wrong is a telling ballad of life gone wrong with a sting in the tail ("You know nothing of my life/You know nothing at all"), but given Allie's folk club roots it's fitting that the two best tracks should be a deathbed lament (the title track, a high conceit, marvellously executed) and Joe Louis Blues, a good old-fashioned liberal protest.
From the two ends of a rainbow, Fox is the assured voice of melodic, cool, cooing songs with lyrical depth and shimmering choruses, Williams is the hang around waif, her songs tiny things shining a lonely light beyond their small corner.
Fox is the most overtly folksy, numbers like Back Street Girl cling to a traditional mimic melody, where acoustic guitars swap Spanish tinged riffs and her warm vocal brings some hope to a story of wretched low life. Rightfully kept high in the mix, nothing is allowed to dominate her voice, a quite beautiful instrument, put through its paces on testers like Marguerita, which takes time to kick in the vocal before myriad colours come tumbling and an easy acoustic groove has the backing band - seasoned Scots session players all - loping along with a stylish shuffle. I Was Wrong recalls Shelagh McDonald, probably the most sensible comparison for the whole album, come to think of it, a simple guitar, keyboard composition which's swept up neatly by a Border pipe break tender enough to turn your knees to jelly.
There's nothing at all loose or incomplete. If you want rough then this isn't your road, but if you want quality and daring in one take, look no further than Joe Louis Blues, which manages to cram in bubbling Scots overtones, slide blues lines, a big fat cheese of an organ and a vocal choral from Nakibembe in Uganda, at just over five minutes. She's got some chops this girl.
The calling card of a classic song is when you are left with an unmistakeable sense of deja vu - it tricks you into thinking you've heard it before. It could be a melodic hook, a specific harmonic progression, or simply its overall shape and the way it seems to unfold so seamlessly. Allie Fox's I Was Wrong is such a song, possessing that indefinable element of inevitability, a feeling that not a note is out of place - from its understated opening to the beautifully arranged multi-layered conclusion. I defy even the stoniest of hearts to be unmoved. The track is from singer-songwriter Fox's debut album Diving for Pearls, a most impressive collection of ten original songs: tight vocal harmonies, well-crafted arrangements and some fine instrumental work particularly from guitarist John Rutherford and pianist/producer Iain McKinna. UK exclusive distribution by Koch International: 0208-832-1818, or firstname.lastname@example.org