debut album Diving for Pearls
a really exceptional
I spend most of my waking hours listening to new CDs that come in and deciding whether I want to play them on the programme or not. Mostly it's not actually, because a lot of the listening is invisible in the sense that you're getting CDs in day by day and a lot of them you're thinking - 'No I don't really like that' or 'No I don't particularly want to play that.' In the case of this one, the first thing that attracted me to it was the reviews which were absolutely superb and saying what a delicate and beautiful album this is Gradually it began to wash over me and I got into the spirit of the album and began to really enjoy it .I think it's a really nice album and I'll definitely be playing more tracks from it in the weeks to come.
Drawing on the talents of some top Scottish session musicians and producer Iain McKinna, Allie Fox has crafted a varied and warm album. From the folky bounce of The Moon Above the Rooftops and Backstreet Girl to the Latin-tinged percussive thrust of Marguerita, there is a consistent quality here. Some lovely backing vocal arrangements - particularly on the Motown-y I Was Wrong - enhance things nicely
From the outset, Diving for Pearls has the feel of a well-honed project. Borders singer-songwriter Allie Fox achieves a dextrous balance between relaxed, even upbeat, rhythms and thoughtful lyricism. The clarity of Fox's voice is crystalline. With a sound that has hints at times of Sandy Denny, she commands attention - not only to the songs, but to what she is singing about.
This is music for the evening, perhaps a summer one at that. The occasional thrum of Spanish-influenced guitar certainly enhances this idea, but just as you think you have Fox pinned down, the music takes another turn and the mood deepens. The touch of violas and cello on I Was Wrong creates a sweet melancholia - although the Border pipes could take you by surprise.
It's the musical twists which keep this CD fresh. The quirky percussion intro to The Moon Above the Rooftops - which gives way to country-inspired guitar and a hint of the transatlantic to Fox's vocals - cannot help but bring a smile.
Behind the gentle chords and dreamy arrangements there's an underlying tender solemnity which ensures Diving for Pearls leaves an impact which lasts for days not hours.
Allie Fox once used the same loo as Paul Simon. This isn't a claim to fame. Rather, since it happened during Simon's mid-1960's British folk scene odyssey when Fox was already a youthful fellow performer, it's confirmation of her long service in music.
Borders-based Fox recently released her well-received album Diving for Pearls and showcased some of it here. A sweetly expressive singer and able guitarist, she also has an attractive, optimistic songwriting style. Life's bummers - redundancy, severe weather - provide vehicles for refreshingly witty, chin-up observation . Fox is producing some fine work deserving of wider attention.