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BELINDA O’HOOLEY - Inversions 

BELINDA O’HOOLEY - Inversions 
No Masters NMCD53 

I am a failed pianist, but that does not deter me from reviewing this album featuring Belinda’s piano compositions. After all, she wants the CD to be bought by non pianists presumably.

First thing to say is that this is not an album one receives every day: indeed not even every year. Does it come off? Not totally, but gee I admire Belinda’s bravery. It is the quintessential antithesis to her up-tempo, joyous Gentleman Jack theme song for the smash hit TV series this year.

Her original compositions here evoke places in Ireland, Scotland and Wales (rather than her native Yorkshire) and do so rather well, especially effectively on Welsh mountains like Cadair Idris that I know moderately. Her re-workings around traditional favourites like The Bonny Boy and Skibbereen are not quite as successful: maybe because I could not sing along as I could with her more faithful The Hills Of Greenmore.

Best track on the album is the longest, at 6 minutes 47: the extraordinary closing track My Father’s Reel. This is seriously mesmeric: I have played it at least ten times. It is what she calls “a deeply personal exploration of patriarchy and the family”, and has a total grip on one, like it’s Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy. And here’s the thing: Belinda’s piano just seals the deal here, in that her runs and riffs help keep you in a trance as her hypnotic spoken word delivery (like a female Simon Armitage) grips you spellbound.

Dai Woosnam