Since first coming across Ms Bryden I have been more than a little intrigued as to why a lady with such a voice and capability to put over a song had to scrabble around for a label.
Since her first – self-funded – album she has been through marriage, childbirth, illness, a move to the UK and a couple more albums and become a favourite on Radio 2, even hosting her own shows at different times.
So, we come to this, her fourth album and she sounds so confident, so at peace with her talents and really in the groove of her own music. She is described as a ‘Singer/Songwriter’ and if you think back to the likes of Janis Ian, Laura Nyro, Jonie Mitchell or even the great Bonny Koloc you might get the feel of her songs and themes but there is something strong and modern that sets her apart from those great musicians. Just listen to a track such as ‘Lie To You’; utterly modern strident rhythm coupled with strong vocals and insistent presentation – this is NOT a little girl pleading for her man but rather an empowered woman telling her man she will live her own life.
It moves into ‘Thought I Was Made For U’ which turns the sound on its head and shows another facet of that incredible voice.
‘Gunshot’ brings back the power, the confidence, while ‘Holes In My Shoes’ is reflective and impassioned and ‘Olive Tree’ brings back memories of her first album as she sings a lullaby to her child with a keening beauty and softness.
Nell Bryden is a very, very talented singer and no mean songwriter too. This definitely sees her at the peak of her powers and bears repeated listens without palling.