For the duration of my formative years I was a Toyah fan, and the rules of being a Toyah fan back then dictated that you couldn't also be a Hazel O'Connor fan, so while I knew the 'Breaking Glass' film and the various hit singles I never really bothered to delve particularly deeply into the Hazel O'Connor catalogue, or seek out the chance to see her live. Until a couple of years ago when I was lucky enough to see the 'Beyond Breaking Glass' tour. Until that point I hadn't realised the Hazel O'Connor could sing, and boy can she sing, I was genuinely blown away by the show and by her performance.
So, to fast forward to the here and now, when I approached this review I knew that singing was something Hazel O'Connor was good at, but honestly I wasn't prepared for this at all. I knew it was Hazel O'Connor because it said so on the sleeve, but the voice that came out of the speakers when I put on the first track 'I Call Out Your Name' was nothing like the voice I was expecting. This is a voice full of power, a soul voice that dips in and out of jazz and gospel with such ease that it makes it look effortless. This is a voice that echoes Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Tina Turner. Powerful, soulful and confident.
The only echoes to the Hazel O'Connor in my head are provided through the saxophone accompaniment provided by long time O'Connor collaborator (and former Belle Star) Clare Hirst whose playing here recalls the wistful meanderings of 'Will You', particularly on the opening track. The trio behind this album is then completed by the deft piano work of the third member of this trio, Sarah Fisher, who has also worked with Eurythmics.
'Here She Comes' is a heady mix of new original material, and interpretations of classic songs that display the diverse influences on show on this album. For me it's 'Good Morning Heartache', made famous by Billie Holiday, that works best of the cover versions, so neatly does if fit with the soul and spirit of the record, whereas the trio's version of Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day', which I expected to love, is a little too close to the original and jars slightly against the mood of the album.
But it's the original material on 'Here She Comes' that really shines through. I'm going to choose 'Still of the Night', 'I Call Out Your Name' and 'Going Home' for special mentions but all the new songs on here are worthy additions to a catalogue that I still have yet to explore. What a journey it's going to be.
I Call Out Your Name / To Be Freed / Don't You Call Me Darling / Still of the Night / My Friend Jack / Good Morning Heartache / World Turned Upside Down / Ne Me Quitte Pas / Perfect Day / Going Home
'Here She Comes' was released on March 3rd 2014 on CD and via download.
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