Album Review | Chariot Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson
One of the most enduring voices on the British music scene, Barbara Dickson continues to explore the power of song with a new album that features one or two choice covers, a couple of traditional ballads, a revamped show tune and no less than three from her own pen. With a title that possibly eludes to her steadily advancing years, Barbara betrays this notion, appearing to have been at the elixir of life, judging by the impressive cover shot, which shows an artist in her prime. Barbara chooses to kick the album off with an old Robin Williamson song from the Incredible String Band’s eponymous 1966 debut, “Good As Gone”, which is treated to a new and contemporary keyboard-led arrangement, while at the same time tipping her hat to the hedy psychedelic days of yore towards the end of the song.
In contrast, Troy Donockley’s Uillean pipes come into their own during Barbara’s reading of the traditional “Barbara Allan”, set to Barbara’s own melody. “When Shadows Meet the Light” is a song that seems to encompass some of Barbara’s notable artistic endeavours and is a mixture of her folk sensibilities, a sense of the theatrical and a demonstration of her ability to write a good torch ballad, an obvious choice then for the first single from this album. This has the potential to be a great live show stopper, should we ever get back to such a thing as a live show. Having already released an album of Gerry Rafferty’s songs, To Each and Everyone (2013), Barbara once again returns to the Paisley bard’s canon, with a soulful take on “Look Over the Hill”, once again treating the song with the respect it rightly deserves. Perhaps the highlight of this collection though, is Barbara’s reworking of Hamish Henderson’s Scot’s ballad “The Ballad of the Speaking Heart”, which sees Barbara return to her original vernacular, providing us with a powerful performance. Time may be going faster for Barbara, even in these times, but it appears to be time well spent.