Bancroft and Lyne – Monday Nights (released 23 November)
(LisaLeo Records 0901. CD & Download review by Fiona Mactaggart)
Esteemed Scottish singer-songwriter Sophie Bancroft and Canada-born bassist Tom Lyne, a wife and husband duo, took advantage of last spring’s quarantine to give weekly online concerts from the comfort of their living room. Now they have gathered some of their favourite songs to form this lovely album, Monday Nights. Ten tracks in all, four are originals from Bancroft, one from Lyne, and the rest are beloved classics which have been transformed by the pair, blending in to the album beautifully.
The album opens with the old favourite, Louis Jordan and Billy Austin’s Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby, thereby setting a tone which pervades the whole album: measured and relaxed, where moments of pause are not to be feared. The qualities of tenderness and an engaging simplicity, in which there are no notes surplus to requirements, continue in second track, Cole Porter’s You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To. Lyne’s double bass offers perfect support to Bancroft’s clear voice and minimalist guitar.
The other three covers, Michael Franks’ Underneath The Apple Tree, Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner’s On The Street Where You Live and final track Tom Waites’ gorgeous Grapefruit Moon all enchant – the unfussy, folk-influenced style only adding to their appeal.
In Lyne’s sole composition, Far From Mars, his jazz sensibility is happily to the fore as he swaps his acoustic instrument for electric bass.
However, Bancroft’s four deceptively simple contributions are for this listener the highlights, not least because of her interesting lyrics. Her solo Fragile Moon has a charming guitar entrance, the limpid vocal tones adding to a sense of peace. Stand-out Miles Away has lyrics which are particularly apt for a time of strict quarantine. Blue Room continues the mellow and mildly melancholic mood whilst Comfort is a slight and delicate affair.
This is music to chill to, possibly over a nightcap. Bancroft’s lyrics are thoughtful and poignant, the overall sound calming and warm – just the ticket for the present, Covid times.
A final round of applause should go to Stuart Hamilton (Engineering and Mixing) and Mark Freegard (Mastering).
Monday Nights is released 23 November 2020 on LisaLeo Records, available on CD and Download.