EP Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5
This time last year, O’Hooley and Tidow, Lady Maisery and Grace Petrie gathered together as a collective under the guise of ‘Coven’ in order to tour a selection of songs the six women had worked on during the previous year. One year on and the busy singers and musicians, namely Belinda O’Hooley, Heidi Tidow, Hazel Askew, Hannah James, Rowan Rheingans and Grace Petrie, have gathered their collective potions, encircled the cauldron and set about organising a second tour and also recorded and released their debut EP just in time for it. The Unholy Choir EP features six songs, including a couple of originals, together with some tastefully selected covers, including Kate Bush’s gorgeous “This Woman’s Work”, which is treated to a fine uplifting vocal arrangement, and Maggie Roche’s equally emotion-driven “Quitting Time”, this being possibly the first Roche cover since the singer’s untimely death last month. Originally formed to celebrate International Women’s Day, Coven have begun to make their mark on the folk/acoustic music scene, not only for their musical credentials but also for their commitment to social issues. Any song that opens with the words Dick and Gaughan in a row is a sure fire winner and Grace Petrie’s anthem “If There’s a Fire in Your Heart” does precisely that and lives up to our expectations of it. One familiar song, intimately known and loved by any discerning O’Hooley and Tidow fan, would be the opening song “Coil and Spring”, from which the EP title derives, centred around Pussy Riot’s celebrated protest against the Russian Orthodox Church. Co-written by Belinda, Heidi and Boff Whalley and originally heard on the duo’s 2014 album The Hum, the song here takes full advantage of the collective’s collaborative voices. However good the songs sound on this EP, there’s a distinct sense that they’re all aching to be performed live, and some of us are aching to hear them.