I first saw Bella at the Folk Prom, where I’m sure I wasn’t the only one smitten by that heartbreakingly beautiful voice and her sense of fun. Question was, would the studio CD live up to the live experience?
Night Visiting is not Bellowhead. The fiddles and other instruments are there to accompany the vocalist, rather than to dominate. The focus is Bella’s voice, and the album stands or falls on her vocals. I’m happy to say it stands wonderfully. Starting with the self-penned ’Three Black Feathers’, before moving through songs of love found (’Dog & Gun’) and lost (’Young Edmund’) to the Peak District carol ’Down in Yon Forest’, it doesn’t miss a beat.
The first - and perhaps only - blip comes with ’Heart Hill’. It’s a song I really want to like. I can empathize with the sentiment and in parts it is undoubtedly beautiful. However, there are moments when the lyrics come across as clunky & clumsy.
Fortunately, things quickly get back into their stride with ’Searching for Lambs’, the press gang lament ’All Things Are Quite Silent’, and the Flemish ’Maying Song’ ..possibly my favourite on the album ("Go plant your tree where e’re you please.."!).
Molly Vaughan’ is a nice example of a tragic folk ballad. And though I’m not so sure about ’Alone, Jane?’, that’s probably because I’m male and hence unable to understand the fascination with Jane Eyre. Whatever, the album ends strongly with ’Bonny Susie Cleland’ & a vocal which sends a shiver down this spine.
Released by Noe on 22 October 2007.
1. Three Black Feathers
2. Dog & Gun
3. Young Edmund
4. Down in Yon Forest
5. Heart Hill
6. Searching for Lambs
7. All Things Are Quite Silent
8. Maying Song
9. Molly Vaughan
10. Alone, Jane?
11. Bonny Susie Cleland