Procol Harum

the Pale

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Elizabeth Bryson's Reflections in my Tea • 2012 CD

Reviewed for BtP by Rob Barnes

The first time I heard Elizabeth’s Bryson’s voice was back in 2004 (performing her version of the Procol Harum song Toujours L’Amour on the Palers’ Project album From Shadow to Shadow), which resulted in my firmly nailing my colours to her mast with the published review comment ‘There’s a voice that I would gladly walk naked in a blizzard over broken glass to hear.’

Over the intervening eight years, Elizabeth has been sending me examples of her new compositions, and her very individual vocal/piano performance style – so fortunately for all, I haven’t had to resort to nakedness to hear them.

Her début album is a departure for her, in that most of the songs are enhanced by other instruments, and make for a genuinely well-rounded sound. A quick word here for Scot Sax, who is a man-for-all-instruments in his support capacity, adding some really nice bass and percussion lines amongst his other instruments.

Some of these songs are intensely personal in their nature, and her singing brings the emotions to the fore. Don’t get the idea that the songs are maudlin, because they are not – there is a great variety of style which Elizabeth is able to pull off supremely well – for example the multi-tracked vocal and run-along first track Until the Whirlpool Stops (good single material), and contrast that with the Yellow Flower, a fine vocal/piano-only number. I was pleased to hear Farther or Closer included – always one of my favourite EB songs, now benefiting from a broader arrangement.

Interestingly, the only track which doesn’t do it for me is the only one where she takes someone else’s lyrics.

So here we have a début album from someone who has been writing and performing for many years, and it shows – her accumulated compositional and performance experience being used to the very best effect. Her arrangements never get in the way of the messages in the songs, and without exception work well.

If you like an album which draws you into the lyrics and encourage you to get inside a person’s feelings, this is definitely for you. Her variety of musical styling is icing on the cake. A wholehearted recommendation from this listener/fan in the UK. Go buy!

From a warm and fully-clothed Rob Barnes, South Shields, NE England.

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Reflections in my Tea

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