Stephanie Kirkham - Sunlight On My Soul
Like fellow Prestonian Edwina Hayes (who's opened for Lulu, played with Jools holland and spent many years touring and recording in America), Stephanie Kirkham is surely destined to follow a career trajectory. Her debut album "That Girl", released in 2003 was inoffensive pleasant yet not timely memorable and came and went without anyone really taking notice. Her follow up "Sunlight On My Soul" sees Stephanie sounding more confident and her songwriting skills showing a growing maturity. Kirkham is also joined by Johnny Dunne who deftly weaves his web of musical ingenuity with the arrangements., production and his skill as a multi-instrumentalist.
"Show Me What You're Made Of" is a touch folky, with Kirkham's sweet seductive voice not unlike a certain Erin McKeown. There's plenty of brass, piano and great percussion with hints of jazz which is so infectious that when the harmonicas arrive you'll be amazed at her range and versatility. It's a song that's immediately likeable, quirky and charmingly eccentric. "Wash Away The Ashes" has a distinct country flavour in favour with the American scene. Structurally it's not unlike a sophisticated nursery rhyme and the lyrics confirm that Stephanie is still a hippy at heart which the line "been dragging my feet under my personal cloud" demonstrates. A folk like simplicity with the use of piano stunningly effective. The vocals are so natural and soothing which makes for pleasurable listening throughout the album.
"Bonds Are Broken" has a tribal and psychedelic intro which is both refreshing and a touch unsettling with the use of vintage Levellers. The lyrics are very confessional, detailing the end of a relationship and moving on without regret or bitterness. "January Day" is a romantic view on the first month of the year with very observant and insightful lyrics. Kirkham sounds very upbeat and positive on this track amongst the brass arrangement which vocally puts you in mind of Suzanne Vega. It's unashamedly old fashioned and is none the worse for it.
"Sunlight On My Soul" is a real breath of fresh air, an organic beautifully realized set of songs with a voice to fall in love with.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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