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Azania Ltd  AZA01CD

Fact: Louise is another within that category of “bright young thing” folk artists who in the space of little over a year seem to have sprung from nowhere into prominence and acclaim. But any such potentially pejorative interpretation of her talent must end there.

Louise’s debut recording, the EP Born To Wander, came out in November 2010, and gained her several invitations to appear on local and commercial radio and at a number of folk venues during 2011, all (intentionally?) culminating in the release of this full-length CD last November. Tempvs (to observe the album title’s obstinately quirky spelling) was conceived in the New Forest area, to which Louise has recently returned after ten years away (studying law and human rights and working for various charities); its seriousness of purpose signals her return to her true vocation, that of making music.

Louise was classically trained from an early age, and has keenly explored other types of music since taking up the guitar twelve years ago, carving out her own personal musical path through the folk idiom though at all times remaining informed by her early musical experiences – as can be heard in her stylish, dramatic self-accompaniment (on piano) on her determinedly individual, somewhat Sturm-und-Drang rendition of William Taylor, one of just three traditional songs she interprets on this album. Louise’s singing manages over the course of the album to be both unsettling and ethereal, and on that track in particular it brings distinct echoes of the Lieder singer and the warble of Kate Bush almost in equal measure, the latter also being strongly recalled on the contours of Salley Gardens, perhaps less eccentrically on her very convincing take on Lowlands Of Holland.

Louise’s own compositions are absolutely charming: Peaceful recalls Sandy Denny’s own writings, whereas World Weary evokes Anne Briggs and Born To Wander and Little Robin Redbreast bring more of a flavour of an upper-register Bridget St. John. On the other hand, Without Ceremony has no obvious folky reference point, being a fascinating and perceptive chamber-style setting of Thomas Hardy’s poem (from his 1914 collection Satires Of Circumstance) which employs a restless, choppy piano-and-cello accompaniment that closely mirrors the wandersome nature and almost cruelly dismissive self-reproach of the pithy lyric (and intriguingly, for one key line Louise also seems to adopt a variation on the text that I’d not previously encountered). The final track, Omnia Tempvs Habent, is a stately, yet also delicately florid baroque-styled musical paraphrase of the famous passage from Ecclesiastes “all things have their season” that inspired Pete Seeger’s Turn Turn Turn.

To conclude then: in realising her own musical vision, Louise easily persuades us that she needs no studio production gimmicks or additional musicians, preferring instead to stand or fall entirely on her own merit (for as well as being a thoughtful singer and song interpreter, she’s a creative, and tasteful yet powerful, self-accompanist on guitar, piano and cello). Tempvs is an admirable, entirely honest, courageous, enterprising – and proudly, completely self-produced – record, one of real character that should win Louise many friends.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 91 of The Living Tradition magazine.