Skin - Fleshwounds

When Skunk Anansie split up a few years ago I was devastated. This shocking and unexpected announcement left me in mourning for the British rock band. As you can gather I was a massive fan from the very beginning, the moment I heard debut single "Selling Jesus" I was instantly hooked. Front woman Skin was sexy, scary, intimidating and unforgettable. Since the band went their separate ways drummer Mark is now in Feeder, bass player Cass joining Scars with Gary Moore and Darren Moody (ex-Primal Scream). Ace the guitarist has an unreleased solo album and attempted to get into the Guinness Book Of Records for playing with the most effect pedals simultaneously. Skin's debut single "Trashed " failed to set the charts alight reaching a disappointing number 30. Her album "Fleshwounds", a cathartic exploration on the breakdown and deterioration of relationships should fare a lot better

The moody, mellow and magnificent "Faithfulness" opens the album in terrific style. Gail Ann Dorsey's electric bass playing injects a lethal dose of funk into the mix. The complexity of the lyrics are delivered with Skin's smooth vocal gently luring the listener into her psyche. The subtle yet welcome dip into the murky waters of electronica are illustrated clearly as the beats creep in slowly. Skin's vocal is simply sensational on "Listen To Yourself", the sound of a woman in total control. The sound of the blues is reinstated by harmonica hero Mark Feltham while the guitars play sumptuous licks cranking up the volume as the momentum builds. The sexually motivated line "these wet sheets sex sodden" reveal just what an honest and thought provoking songwriter Skin is.

Robbie William's former songwriting partner Guy Chambers not only co-wrote "Lost" but also played keyboards and piano on the track. It's a beautiful ballad and feels honest and heart warming, but never sentimental or schmaltzy. "You've Made Your Bed" has the sparse arrangement of just voice and piano with the gradual addition of ambient beats. Skin's vocal quivers with raw, undiluted power. Movie director and jazz musician Mike Figgis guests on the trumpet on this low key track.

"Fleshwounds" is a brave change of direction for Skin. With a proud head of hair and a less in your face attitude than before, Skin has matured musically without becoming bland or complacent. As this album shows Skin's drive and ambition is as strong as ever.

Nicholas Paul Godkin