The Independent on Sunday
Fairytales, folk stories, enchanted forests and fiery lakes – so far so promising, as Angie Palmer’s latest perfectly crafted offering gets a Proper release in the January lull.
‘Meanwhile’ is further proof that what “the British Lucinda Williams” lacks in Americana credentials (she’s from Preston), she makes up for with a dues-paying busking-in-Paris past. “The mind has monster great and small/Just waiting for the night to fall” she sings on “Slip Away From Me”. Palmer’s night should fall more often.
Pick of the album: The spooky and epic ‘Weeping Wood’
Simmy Richman, Sunday, 11 January 2009
LISTEN to Angie’s lived-in voice and atmospheric country-folk-rock arrangements and you imagine she spends her time heading down dusty trails under Southern skies.
The truth is she’s a Brit who divides her time between Manchester and France but it’s no surprise she’s been described as our own Lucinda Williams.
Her smoky delivery suits these tales of love and betrayal. There’s a healthy air of mysticism when she enters the secret world of The Fiery Lake, based on a Russian folk story, or crosses the dark, bluesy terrain of Hunting The Wolf. Worth turning the lights down low for.
SC, Friday 9th jan 2009
A Lancashire lass but Palmer makes records that sound like she grew up deep in the heart of America. Vocally Shawn Colvin is a reference point but closer to home echoes of Tanita Tikaram feature in the phrasing. Meanwhile. As Night Falls… has been two years in the writing: living on the edge of a forest the heart of rural France Palmer was drawn to the mystery of nightfall and all that it conceals. The result is a record strong on haunting lyrics and atmospherics. Nowhere is this better evidenced than on the deliciously spiced fairytale song ‘Hunting the Wolf’, where Palmer’s superb house band swamp things up effectively in the style of Tony Joe White. Preceding this is the superb ‘Slip Away From Me’ features suitably unsettling lyrics situated somewhere on the edge of a dream.
But it’s not all dark and devilish tales – the tender ‘If I Was’, sprightly ‘Deep Blue Sea’ and toe-tapping shuffle of ‘I Hear That Locomotive’ successfully lighten the tone. Nevertheless atmospheric story songs define Meanwhile and the concluding mini-epic ‘Weeping Wood’ is a superbly simmering twang-fest that reminds us just why Palmer’s narrative song writing talent has won her comparisons with both Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.
If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a musical surprise
Angie Palmer makes the difficult blending of literary allusions a la Angela Carter and the quick punch of country rock seem simple, ‘Hunting the Wolf’ fuses fairytale and Lucinda Williams in one coherent whole. From listening to the record you’d be hard pressed to tell that she’s from Preston, the seven years she spent in Paris may have infused her with a different sensibility and with her writing partner being the philosopher Paul Mason, may also add to the literary mix. There’s nothing dry about the songs, they are lyrical and flowing, ‘If I Was’ for example is a simple love song and ‘Deep Blue Sea’ rings with joy.
My usual problem with records of this kind from the likes of Shawn Colvin is that they are sometimes sterile in their perfection, thankfully here, though the music is impeccably played and arranged, it isn’t dry, B.J Cole’s pedal steel on ‘After the Lights Have Gone’ weeps musical tears with actual salt in them. The longest piece ‘The Weeping Wood’ sounds like something that could be narrated by Renee Sparks, the dark gothic atmosphere enhanced by urgent strings and twanging guitar that is slapped by cymbals setting up clashes that heighten the atmosphere which builds throughout the song developing into the kind of dark folk rock that the Walkabouts do so well. When all the themes come together for the powerful musical interlude they’ve built up power, like a forest fire grasping hold, it is soon doused by a swirling atmospheric mist that brings a superb ending to the record.
Irish World (abridged)
Palmer’s new album is an English Country jewel
Angie Palmer is a lady from Preston who given a guitar can create incredible licks and sing beautiful, enchanted ballads with her gritty, throaty vocals. Though compared to names like Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams in actual fact, Palmer is quite unique, with a depth, scope and sensitivity to her songs that are bolstered by a life of travel, like that of her idols.
Palmer’s new release takes in bluegrass, rockabilly, and acoustic country, and includes the epic Weeping Wood, a sweeping eight minute adventure. She is uncompromising in her genre-mixing, serving up folk, rock and blues with an equal amount of aggression and tenderness in her own narrative style.
This new CD was two years in the making. Most of it was made while Palmer was living on the edge of a forest in the depths of the French countryside. The songs on this record, in fact, are almost haunted by the troubling sense of what the night hides amidst a landscape of utter isolation.
‘Meanwhile…’ see the singer extending her talent for narrative song-writing further still, into the intriguing territory of Russian folk stories (The Fiery Lake), biblical parables (Hey Lazarus!) and classic fairy tales (Hunting the Wolf). ‘ Meanwhile…’ is an at times eery, epic and beautifully crafted album.
Shelley Marsden – 18/02/09
Angie’s fourth album, Tales Of Light And Darkness, came out almost three years ago and gained considerable airplay (notably on Bob Harris’s show) as well as a great critical reception.
The eagerly awaited followup, with a similarly nocturnal title, continues this exceptional singer-songwriter’s established tradition of atmospheric, brilliantly crafted writing that ranges over a wide gamut of Americana, folk and blues, faithfully and cleanly recorded. Just as Tales… was like Road part 2, so Meanwhile… is like Tales… part 2 in many ways, but importantly it also represents a significant (further) step forward in terms of stretching the already wide envelope – one might say (extending the metaphor), out to “large letter” size on the album’s awesome, cinemascope finale The Weeping Wood, a powerful epic folk-ballad-legend with a big production (string orchestra competing with western-style twang guitars) that Angie manages to keep under admirably tight rein. If anything, the musical content of this new batch of songs is even more varied than on previous albums, with Angie’s versatile voice equally adept at conveying forlorn heartbreak, determined resignation, gritty resolve and compelling storytelling troubadour.
Disc opener On The Eve, with Angie’s building emotional response bolstered by Hammond organ and whining steel guitar, is a classic, a classy act that’s real hard to follow, but stick in there through the album’s heady parade of changing moods and you’ll not be disappointed. In swift succession we experience the eerie folk-tale of The Fiery Lake, set to a deceptively gentle lapping rhythm, and the brooding, ominous nature of a relationship (Slip Away From Me). Then there’s Hunting The Wolf, a slinky, creepy werewolf saga couched in gris-gris rhythms and howling wah-wah guitars – another triumph of atmosphere-building – which is immediately capped (and completely contrasted) by the delicate, tender love song If I Was with its beautifully understated accompaniment, the latter quality being much in evidence also on the desperate steel-soaked weepie After The Lights Have Gone.
Maybe, just maybe the album’s perkier “relief points” (the carefree swinging wave-motions of Deep Blue Sea, and the Mystery-Train blues-rockabilly shuffle of I Hear That Locomotive) don’t hit home as much for me, but they’re better than fillers and assuredly, idiomatically done. As is the canny Hey Lazarus! (which sounds so authentic you might think it traditional, but like all the songs here it’s a joint composition between Angie and Paul Mason).
Once again, Angie’s in abundantly fine voice herself, and makes fullest and most effective use of her superb support crew (violinist Richard Curran, guitarist/dobro ace Steve Buckley and bassist Ollie Collins, with this time Tim Franks and Sophie Hastings sharing percussion duties) and brings in guests B.J. Cole and Alan Gregson on a couple of songs apiece. The digipack is attractive, the enclosed booklet’s a thing of beauty (aside from a couple of sections of the lyrics disappearing into a reader-unfriendly sunset).
Yes, Meanwhile… is a really haunting, impressive new addition to Angie’s recorded output, one that’s definitely set to be a fixture in my CD player.
David Kidman, Jan 2009
Angie Palmer is a great favourite of Bob Harris, a DJ who recognises a quality songstress when he hears one. I interviewed her and her partner Paul Mason for this magazine a few years back and came away hugely impressed by what they both had to say. Palmer’s likened to Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan; the Joni references can be heard in her pure voice and the beauty and subtlety of her guitar playing, whilst I suspect the Dylan observations are aimed at the panoramic, deeply ethereal lyrics. That department is handled by Paul, and as on previous releases, he shows an amazing depth of knowledge and an ability to conjure up the richest imagery.
The Palmer/Mason partnership is balanced to perfection, and this album is probably their most fully realised work to date. The band Angie has around her are all first class musicians but they never crowd her out or smother the essence of the songs. When a real drive is needed, like on country rocker I Hear That Locomotive, they provide the necessary kick, but they drop back and caress on the more introspective numbers with equal aplomb.
Palmer and Mason wrote Meanwhile… deep in the heart of the French countryside surrounded by a dense forest, which may account for the mysterious and secluded feel of these beautifully written and performed songs.
Acclaimed British singer-songwriter Angie Palmer has been dubbed ‘English Americana’. Her new album Meanwhile as night falls… concerns itself what nightfall conceals; a mix of country, folk, rock and blues served up with equal measures of aggression and tenderness.
The album was written whilst living for two years on the edge of a forest in the depths of the French countryside. This result is an extraordinary set of songs, informed by her amazing travelling life, that range from simple acoustic to the highly ambitious and haunting Weeping Wood, an eight-minute epic.
Her singular talent is backed by one of the best bands I have come across in awhile, the very aptly name Revelators. They are joined on this record by the legendary pedal steel guitarist BJ Cole and classical percussionist Sophie Hastings. Our links include a mesmerising cover of Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower accompanied by BJ Cole.
This album reached us by chance and is treasured, don’t let it pass you by.
Lee Edwards, Issue 13 January 2009
Being heavily championed by venerable Radio 2 DJ ‘Whispering Bob Harris hasn’t done much to distance Lancastrian Angie Palmer from the mass of female singer-songwriters. Her fifth album probably won’t change that. But operating where folk, blues, country and rock slide together and shot through with a distinctly English sensibility, it has enough assured moments to maybe pick up a few stray Lucinda Williams or Shawn Colvin fans. Weeping Wood, a darkly mysterious eight-minute epic that gets the full hovering strings, twangy guitar, Ennio Morricone treatment, even suggests that old Bob might have a point.
Peter Kane, Feb 2009