Gwyneth Herbert – Clangers and Mash

Sarah Ellen Hughes went to the launch of Gwyneth Herbert’s Clangers and Mash (Naim) earlier this week. Here’s her report:

Gwyneth Herbert’s new release Clangers and Mash (Naim) has nine tracks, and a total of six songs . It is in the indistinct area between the backdrop for a single and an album.

She writes about it: “I wanted to do something a bit different to mark the release of our new single, Perfect Fit, so I scrabbled around for a few backstage scrapings and asked a handful of my lovely and varied musician friends to present some Herbert tracks as they’d never been heard before . The result is Clangers and Mash: bleepy, tappy, pleasureful earfood to tickle your bellies. Tuck in.”

The PR message I picked up is that Herbert is progressively moving away from the “jazz singer,” label into more mainstream singer-songwriter territory. It’s not surprising that this takes time, particularly as her attention gets waylaid by ambitious – and highly successful- projects such as the film score she recently wrote for The Patsy – reviewed by Alyn Shipton HERE 
She is indeed an extremely versatile singer and songwriter. The new single was catchy, and striking for its use of harmonied vocals. Her voice is powerful, raw, achy and intimate all at the same time, particularly in “So Worn Out” (Temper D Remix) and she sings with that same sense of maturity and experience that you find in Joni Mitchell’s later recordings.

As a performer – I went to the preview of the new release at Ronnie Scott’s Bar on Wednesday – she has a fun and feisty way of getting her songs across. Her poetic lyrics and charismatic delivery marry well, creating an intimate yet totally relaxed atmosphere in this crowded bar. Her stage craft is faultless – from a commanding glance right down to a perfectly place ‘pop’ noise following the lyric “Silver bangles and a popped balloon” in Annie’s Yellow Bag. Ah, I thought, that’s what the balloon was for.

Gwyneth Herbert is a lively and charismatic performer, a songwriter who is building her songbook at her pace. And one definitely doesn’t forget that sassy combo of the ukulele and the killer heels…

Categories: miscellaneous

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