Welsh-born and Bristol-based, but with an ear cocked somewhere to the south of the Mason-Dixon line, Jane Allison releases her pretty collection of Celtic Country & (Great?) Western in September. Backed by an able assemblage of Bristol’s finest folk players, Allison’s expansive vocal and beautifully formed harmonies are top-drawer, lending emotion and authenticity to her rootsy musings. ‘Just Another Girl’ is being marketed as Americana, and certainly the delightful Southern swing of ‘Hymn To Hope’ (listen below), the homespun ‘Country Lovin’ and the poppy title-track display many C&W tropes (chicken-peckin’ steel guitar, standup-bass-and-brushes shuffles, hell, even banjo). Yet a chunk of the album is actually taken up with ethereal piano balladry, the most striking of which – the powerful gospel lament ‘Real Life’ and the mournful AoR of ‘Wait For Me’ – touch on mystic folkisms that are more Brecon Beacons than Blue Ridge Mountains. The intersection of these two approaches is reached on ‘Fading Moon’, which, lovelorn subject matter aside, sounds like something off PJ Harvey’s ‘Let England Shake’. All considered construction, polished instrumentation and consummate vocal, Allison’s songs have bountiful commercial scope, in whatever style she chooses to perform them. Already an established actress, she plays two musical roles equally effectively on ‘Just Another Girl’: her next move may be to decide which one suits her best.
Just Another Girl is out on 6 September.
Words by Nick Mee: Follow @Nickjmee on Twitter