As 2017 went through its final handful of rewarding weeks, it is fair to say it produced some of its biggest musical treats, one of which was the new album from singer songwriter Jane Allison. The follow-up to her hypnotic debut album Just Another Girl three years earlier, Methylene Blue is a tantalisingly magnetic affair in its own right deserving of all the praise carrying attention it can muster.
The former vocalist of indie outfit KarmaDeva, Jane Allison Stanness to give her full name is one of those talents and voices which almost haunt the imagination. Her songwriting is an embrace of observation and intimacy, her fusion of folk and Americana a warm melancholic hug on the senses which carries you away in thought and creative seduction. Proof came with Just Another Girl and its bewitchment of emotive shadows and personal angst, attributes all the richer within the breath-taking thought courting adventure of Methylene Blue which confirms Jane Allison as one of Britain’s finest modern day troubadours, or should that be trobairitz.
Unveiling tales of “dereliction, salvation, obsession and allure, with its title track inspired in parts by the breath-taking love letters of Violet Trefusis to Vita Sackville-West”, all providing an “homage to triumph, defiance, the heroine, the daughter, and the muse”, Methylene Blue was recorded in fits and starts during Kula Shaker’s 2016 20th anniversary and K2.0 world tour. Blessed with the backing vocals of Audrey Evans from Mediæval Bæbes, the album arose at a time of great personal loss and during the devastating attack on Brussels. There is sadness at its heart but equally defiance and hope thick warmth which brews a melancholy so easy to immerse within.
The album opens up with Ain’t Wreckin’ Me, a country fuelled canter with the rich familiar twang the style often brews; its lure wrapping Allison’s enticing tones soon backed by equally beguiling harmonies. Rising from the ashes of a lost relationship, the track is a bouncy self-affirming affair getting the album off to a very potent start.
The outstanding Another Prayer follows, its mellow sighs riding a captivating swing as Allison again lures total attention with her bewitching voice and keys bred melodies. The darker pulse of bass is as compelling; its lurking presence engaging as the song with a certain Kirsty MacColl hue to it sublimely seduces ears and appetite before Hollow Rock slips in on a vibrant shuffle, growing second by second into a similarly absorbing proposal. Harmonica and guitar weave their own Americana spawned temptation but there is no denying that it is Allison’s voice and craft which takes the tightest grip.
Oh Girl is next, caressing ears with its gentle but determinedly infectious and lively serenade while its successor, For What It’s Worth shares a heart spilling ballad. From its initial breath, the first of the two is working away building towards a galvanic crescendo, Allison the fascination at its core while in contrast the second strolls along with reflection and brewing affirmation for company. Both songs simply charm in their individual ways as too the album’s title track, another skilfully catchy and soulful croon upon the ears hard to get too much of.
That is something which applies to all tracks within Methylene Blue, as the charismatic saunter of Forgotten Son and the brooding drama of Outlaw Valentine prove. The pair seizes ears and imagination with unstoppable ease, the first arresting ears with its expression and emotion, the body with its bounce while its companion takes the listener into a spellbinding landscape of long shadows and dark romance with a delicious carnival-esque hued undercurrent. The track, the best or not on the album, is undoubtedly the most enthralling.
The smiling invitation of Texas Baby blends the country joy of its named state with Nashvillian flavours before Unknown Soldier bring things to an alluring and haunting close. It is a fascinating and highly enjoyable end to an album which commands regular attention. It is fair to say that the genres at the heart of Allison’s music do not generally induce our passions but in her hands they combine to truly pleasure our ears and enrich our days.
An accomplished actress in her own right and soon to be seen in the film Slaughter House Rulez, a Simon Pegg / Nick Frost comedy horror movie directed by Crispian Mills and surely basking in plaudits for Methylene Blue, Jane Allison could find 2018 a very big year.
Methylene Blue is available now @ https://janeallison.bandcamp.com/
Pete RingMaster 10/01/2017
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright