Helen Boulding - New Red Dress

There is no better story about the vagaries, frustration and slow realisation of a good thing from our music industry than in Helen Boulding’s journey, since 2005 to her debut album release. Let’s start at the end (of this particular part of Boulders’ story anyway), even though this independent, thoughtful and assertive songstress’ debut album has been over three years in the offing, this is to the advantage of the listener and genuine musos. Now, the changing outlook and persona of Helen Boulding is fully illuminated through material that must span half a decade.  Through early displays of frustration with love and life, such as the aching honesty of ‘What A Fool’. That has its blows cushioned by a stirring tapestry of instrumental boldness and an acoustically stirring ode to making a relationship work, ‘Housework’ to the flamboyant and positively purring folk/pop new offering, ‘Copenhagen’. Even the more recent songs that have a darker veil, like ‘I Always Look This This Blue’ are delivered with a calming authority, giving authenticity to a growing philosophical slant;

                  “You know what they say; stuff happens when you look the other way.”

Time has not been wasted during the build up to this revealing full-length. Working with the likes of Simon Tong, Chris Difford (Squeeze) and supporting Bryan Ferry on tour, has sharpened Boulding’s focus and ear for detail. Each song is intricately woven, something that is probably helped by the production touches of Youth. A poetic longing bleeds out of ‘More Than Missing You’, mirroring the potency of Beth Orton. The work of a six piece backing band that includes three guitarists helps the wandering nature of the tune, with the steadfast percussion of Henning Deitz stepping up in tone and tempo to take a controlling influence.

Given Amy Winehouse’s slight step-back from the limelight, a resulting frenzy has resulted and labels battle to get their female singer/songwriter to fill the void. Boulders prefers to do it alone through her own label (Made In Sheffield), but given the success of Imogen Heap with this approach. The music loving public have been given enough of a tempter to back Boulders and make the 11th of February 2008, the UK’s own Independence Day.

Dave Adair

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