29 May 2016

Connie Lush: Renaissance

Connie Lush has a new album coming out in December. It's called 'Renaissance' and if you move quickly you can get Santa to add it to your essential Christmas list. Tell him The Hat sent you. If you have ever been in a relationship ever in your life - and I guess that just about covers most of us - you are going to clutch this CD to your bosom and play it till it wears out. It is a both a woman's terrific paean to the fragility of our relationships and a smart reminder of how tough you can be when you need to move on.

Connie pulls no punches here. If the opening track 'Lonely Boy' about hanging on to yesterdays and waiting for a train that never comes and 'Don't Cry For Me' are heavy with heartbreak, then she is soon moving on and quite at home with the sisterhood reminding you, with some assurance, that 'I Don't Say Goodbye - I just turn my back on you'.

Last year, Connie - five times winner of the Blues in Britain Best Female Singer Award and a prominent presence on the UK blues scene for many years - decided to take herself away from the touring circuit for a while and have a re-think. The creative result is this new album and it has all the hallmarks of a carefully written, planned and beautifully arranged project. Most of the material is self-penned with just one cover and the subtle and unobtrusive arrangements allow her emotion-soaked voice to bestride the tracks and make you listen to her story.

It is impossible not to be drawn in to the interplay, in particular, between her voice and the beautiful and eloquent guitar work of Steve Wright, who was also involved in the production. The trio of Steve, Terry Harris and Roy Martin fit together seamlessly. There are many examples on here, notably the self-penned 'Crying Won't Help You', where the guitar takes the wistful and painful ballad into a perfectly constructed solo, and 'Writing Without Words' about the inevitability and pain of goodbye. This is a stunning track.

The final track and the only cover is a version of the Reid and Shamblin killer 'I Can't Make You Love Me', made famous by Bonnie Raitt. Connie takes this and slows it down to an entrancing sadness, where every single hurting word is made to count. You would expect little else of such a major talent and when she is surrounded by a trio of superb musicians, the creative result is beautiful, powerful and poignant. This is a fine album. If you want to see this superb vocalist live, she will be on stage next year at the massive 'Sisters of Blues and Soul' festival in July. Better book a ticket now....