My regular readers will no doubt already be aware of the name of the remarkable young singer / song-writer Amy Goddard; because I have already reviewed her highly acclaimed debut album Burn & Glow (See my review #79); and her wonderful singles ‘Gladdie’ (#79); and the double A-side ‘Near The Sea’ / ‘Alright Again’ (#86). All three songs are featured on her new album Secret Garden; so when she sent me a pre-release CD copy of it for review, I was very keen to hear it.
The album consists of fourteen songs – eleven of Amy’s originals; two covers and a musical interpretation of a classic poem. She sings lead vocals and plays acoustic guitar and bass; and she is ably assisted by a handful of other very good musicians / vocalists where necessary. Its a fine collection. It is unmistakably ‘Amy’ in its overall sound and style; yet it remains fresh and interesting too. She is a lady with something to say – both lyrically and musically. And she has the skills to weave her creative thoughts into a tapestry of sound, using her voice and guitar.
On all of Amy’s songs the lyrics; vocal harmony arrangements; and musicianship are very impressive indeed. To be honest, I could write a favourable paragraph about each of these songs; but I’ll just say a little about a few that in my opinion are the highlights among them – no easy task considering the high quality of the whole collection.
The opening arpeggios of ‘Words Of Sweet Music’ set the bar high right from the start. Upon the first listen, it reminded me a little of ‘Time Was’ by Wishbone Ash (or at least the folky intro to it). It is a lovely relaxing song about the catharsis that music can provide in times of personal crises. There is a beautiful acoustic guitar solo that for me, fully enhances the song. Very satisfying.
Another favourite of mine is the title track ‘Secret Garden’. Perhaps we all need such a clandestine refuge for a little peace and quiet – if not physically, then psychologically. And if we should ever find ourselves in such a place, with Amy’s guitar playing and ethereal vocals providing the sound-track; then we would surely be half way to Paradise! This song is beautiful, peaceful and relaxing; with well-thought out vocal harmonies and backing vocals.
I also particularly like Amy’s musical interpretation of ‘The Highwayman’ – a poem by Alfred Noyes from 1906, and set in the 18th Century. The haunting vocal melody, along with the sympathetic and subtle use of Hammered Dulcimer and Whistle, really make this song unique, and a joy to hear.
The beautifully sad ‘Gladdie’ is an exceptional song that should be mentioned too. Yet I shan’t dwell on it here. Instead, I refer the reader to my earlier remarks on it (see my review #79).
The CD comes in a standard Jewel Case, along with an impressive deluxe 16-page booklet detailing credits and thanks, plus lyrics; and (something I particularly like which is sometimes lacking in CD booklets), a paragraph or two detailing the inspiration behind each song. The booklet design and some of the artwork is Amy’s doing too. I particularly like the tree-tunnel with stepping stones leading to….who knows where? Its as impressive as a ’70s concept album cover!
All in all, its another big recommendation from The Quill! The album is already available for pre-order from Amy’s website; and will be released on 18th April. She will be performing the new songs at two album launch gigs – one near her hometown of Portsmouth; and one in her native South Wales. Amy is also a music teacher and a luthier; so I wish her every success that her multiple talents deserve. PTMQ
Here is a link to Amy’s website… http://www.amygoddardmusic.co.uk/