Stephanie Kirkham - That Girl
Like my good self, Stephanie Kirkham was born and bred in Preston. She's also a distant relative of Ian Kirkham who used to play saxophone in Simply Red. Here credentials are impeccable. Signed to Hut Records and produced by Ian "Tori Amos" Stanley, her first single was A Listed at Virgin Radio and B Listed at Radio 2. Thankfully bypassing the Fame Academy and Pop Idol route to stardom, Stephanie sang acapella to her prospective employer, armed with her demo tape which eventually became her debut album. Stephanie's apparent talent, charm and perseverance has certainly paid off.
This is, as debut album goes, really rather good. Title track "That Girl" has a folky, perky and naturalness to it. Kirkham does have an oddly American twang to her voice on this particular track though. It's a pity the optimistic summery sounds of the song are being hear in the winter, but seasons aside this is a commercial indie pop rock delight. A little darker in tone is "When You Were Here" which down to earth lyrics prevent anything too drastic although the line "walls are caving in" suggest a possible imprisoned relationship may have inspired the subject matter. This slow burner of a song has gentle keyboards and a dreamy, spacey feel which befits the drama greatly. Another love song is "Garden Of Dreams" which could almost be Natalie Imbruglia singing on a Sundays track. This has a more individual stamp of originality however and a warm, genuine, good natured seal of approval.
Giving Kate Rusby and Kathryn Williams a run for their money is Steph's tale of not backing down in the battle of the sexes on the folk fused song "Never In A Million Years" which due to it's stripped down production accentuates the range and versatility of Miss Kirkham's voice. With Stephanie Kirkham what you see is what you get, which in the case of her album means her personality and strong character shine through and her strength of story telling in her songs is an enlightening experience. You feel like Stephanie's confidant as she reveals her secrets through song in such a personal way. With a debut this strong it'll be a challenge to better it, but if anyone can, Stephanie Kirkham will be "that girl" to do it.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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