Album Review | Berkalin Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5
Fiona’s World is almost cinematic in its proportions, which has prompted me to outline a proposal for a new blockbuster. I think I’m going to cast Brad Pitt as our main protagonist, if that’s okay with you Bob. I would have preferred Paul Giamatti but this has got to be a hit. Our leading lady will probably be Kate Winslet; she’s from Reading which is as near as dammit to the New Forest where Fiona resides, so the accent shouldn’t be much of a problem. The plot is simple. Green-eyed blonde beauty sketches visiting American singer whilst singing songs about the Civil War in a Southampton club. American meets artist after show and promptly falls in love (with Fiona, not the sketch). Winslet will be okay with this as she did precisely the same in Titanic only in reverse. Locations used throughout include the American Deep South, Southampton, the nearby New Forest and Paris. Okay, it’s going to be a romantic movie. Bob Cheevers has set out this romance quite eloquently, referring to it as a ‘mystical journey and symbiotic relationship’ in no less that forty poems and sixteen songs, fourteen of which are contained within this handsome package, featuring Fiona’s original sketch on the cover. Cheevers wears his heart on his sleeve here, with an outpouring of emotion, which probably came as much of a surprise to him as to anyone else. On “New Forest Girl”, he squarely admits he didn’t see this coming, as in the outset of most symbiotic relationships that embark on mystical journeys. Specific songs relating to familiar landmarks of Southern England sound rather enchanting when spoken or sung in a voice reminiscent of Willie Nelson. With a backdrop of the New Forest, Bob and Fiona play out their romance with little interruption from any extras. This is essentially a screenplay for two. By scene six, the action moves from England to France, after our Romeo and Juliet’s first encounter in Southampton. To sweeping accordion fills, we find our sweethearts roaming the Champs-Élysées after carefully planning out their rendezvous in Paris. This is where Winslet predictably gets her kit off and goes for the love scene that will finally get her that much sought after Oscar, you know, the one that continually seems to evade her. Whilst “Only Roses” appears to be the stand out song on this imaginary soundtrack; a poetic confessional that alludes to all the inadequacies that a traditional ‘dozen red wishes’ has to offer, “Every Beauty” celebrates romantic love in the most direct form; ‘every beauty must have a flaw, but I have yet to find yours’. Fiona herself makes a cameo appearance in this movie, singing her part in a duet on “Pictures of Strangers”, which is immediately convincing. It becomes increasingly ambiguous as to who exactly is the artist here and who is the muse. The lines are frequently crossed throughout the fourteen songs. My only reservation about this completely romantic collection of songs is the climax, which is essentially “New Forest Girl” sped up as a hoedown. It’s a mixture of Thomas Hardy meets the Clampetts. I feel if this track had to be included, it should’ve been one of those ‘hidden tracks’ that pops up five minutes after the album has ended. Having said that, if you allow yourself to be drawn into Fiona’s World, it really is quite an engaging experience.