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Lucy Ward - Single Flame (Navigator)

Star rating: 
4

One revered rootsy reviewer recently noted that Lucy Ward's debut album ADELPHI HAS TO FLY received 'absurdly over-enthusiastic reviews' upon its release in 2011. I recall being so impressed with the album at the time, that my review could quite possibly have been one of them. I certainly didn't feel I was being the slightest bit absurd when writing it, not in the least. When you get clobbered with music you love, then there's no such thing as over-enthusiastic. 
 
After picking up last years' Horizon Award at the BBC Folk Awards and making herself extremely busy in the meantime, Lucy has found time to concentrate on this her second album, confining herself to the studio with Megson's Stu Hannah at the controls. There's almost a feeling that this young singer might have come of age with SINGLE FLAME, which is released through Navigator Records. There's a dozen songs here, each strategically placed to stir the emotions and not unlike Lucy's heroine June Tabor, there's an emphasis on atmosphere throughout. 
 
Using the voice she was born with, avoiding mannered embellishment or imitation, Lucy Ward knows how to tell a story. A passionate singer with a strong social conscience, Lucy has the ability to make us think. For the Dead Men was the album's sneak preview, being released as a single well before the release of this album, giving us a sense of where Lucy's song writing might be heading. 
 
The protest songs continue with I Cannot Say I Will Not Speak, from which the album title derives, with its
nod towards Dylan and Melanie and the ideals of the Sixties generation, to thought-provoking meditations on the mythical (Icarus) and the real (Ink), inspired by Alexander Masters book 'Stuart: A Life Backwards'. Balancing the contemporary with the traditional is never an easy act to achieve but Lucy does it with a natural gift and flair, especially if we compare her own beautiful and meditative Shellback with the traditional Lord I Don't Want To Die In The Storm, each song imbued with melancholy and lonely contemplation.  
 
Most of us who have been entertained by Lucy's infectious stage personality, her ever changing appearance and colourful rapport with her audiences far and wide, together with her proud Derbyshire roots and buoyant spirit, will be equally impressed and uplifted by the sensitivity demonstrated by this fine singer on this equally fine album.   
 
Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky