Album Review | First Night Records | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5
Miriam Cooke has a clear voice with the purity and power of Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez. The arrangements are simple giving her singing space to shine through and shine gloriously it does. Miriam makes it sound so simple, so effortless and so perfect. On songs like “Freefalling” and “Picking the Roses” her voice soars, hitting and holding notes with a gentle vibrato that is graceful and beautiful. I found myself listening to songs twice, once just for the cadence of the voice, solo or layered like a choir of smoke, then again for the lyric. Each note is loved and packed with emotion. But there is also a subtly, no pointless virtuosity or histrionics here. Miriam is a storyteller, a drawer of pictures with some well observed imagery on “Freefalling” that avoids the usual and looks at real life. Miriam herself says that she is drawn to music that is both lifting and at times painful. Much of this album, like the lyric for “Bring Me with You” fulfils that brief, with pastoral acoustic music and her singing soothing the soul while the sometimes quirky lyrics create a tension. Cooke’s gently picked guitar accompanies throughout with banjo, double bass and strings helping to build an atmosphere. The Cello and strings weave around the lyric on “An Apple a Day” transforming a well-trodden idea into something sublime and uplifting. Country and Folk elements run through Hello My Friend and the voice just soars. Miriam Cooke is an archaeologist, Musician, broadcaster for the BBC, C4, 5, National Geographic and The Discovery Channel. With a BSc an MA and a PhD in Archaeology. A former international model, she trained as an actor and musician, producing and starring in Soldiers of the Damned, a psychological thriller winning Best Director at the Marbella International Film Festival. That alongside all of this Miriam Cooke, writes and performs fine folky acoustic pop, makes you wonder if there is anything left for anyone else to do. This album isn’t going to win a Mercury Prize or necessarily change the world. But it does provide finely crafted sensitive songs delivered by a classic singer songwriter that nods back to those gatefold sleeved albums by Sandy Denny, Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell. This is a delight throughout.