Although many will be most familiar with Barbara Dickson through her success on the West End stage and belting out best-selling power ballads, she started out performing on the Scottish folk club circuit back in the sixties. This six-track EP, recorded with Rab Noakes, whom she has known and collaborated with on and off for almost fifty years, is very much a return to roots.
With two highly distinctive voices and two beautifully-played acoustic guitars performing very memorable songs together, this EP has a timeless feel about it. You only need to play it once to feel like it’s been in your record collection for years. Recorded in a single afternoon, the six tracks recall key moments from their respective musical careers and past collaborations.
The EP begins with a version of Do Right Woman, the title track of Dickson’s first solo album back in 1970, and it is the perfect opener. It’s a song covered many times but Dickson and Noakes make it sound fresh and bring real emotion to the songs sentiments, about the not unreasonable call for men to treat women in relationships with respect.
There is a wide variety of songs here from a variety of sources. It even includes a version of the old-time sing-along, Que Sera Sera. But there is a consistency about the way the songs are delivered and performed that gives the collection a real coherence.
The final track is a lovely version of Sleepless Nights, a song made famous by the Everly Brothers and later recorded by country icons Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. This version, with slow country-ish guitar and Dickson and Noakes’ voices complementing one another perfectly, makes for a well-chosen closer. Again, it gives this collection the feel of a timeless classic album.
If your only real knowledge of Barbara Dickson is of the West End diva buy this EP and have your perceptions instantly broadened. If you are already familiar with her and Noakes’ unique contribution to UK music you will want to buy this anyway - and you will not be disappointed.Darren Johnson
Released on Neon Records on 14th April 2014
1. Do Right Woman
2. (Don’t Say) Money Doesn’t Matter
3. The Same Sky
4. Que Sera Sera
5. Something’s Wrong
6. Sleepless Nights