Lancashire’s Angie Palmer is one of the best kept UK singer/songwriter secrets. Despite the likes of Bob Harris championing her and a slew of fine releases she steadfastly remains just slightly under the radar. A pity really as she’s one of our most literate songwriters and capable of delivering songs that wouldn’t be out of place in Joni Mitchell’s oeuvre.
For her latest album, Old sticks To Scare a Bird Palmer continues to offer some sublime Mitchell type sojourns with Postcard From Paris a lilting slice of reportage detailing a Paris morning while William Of The Desert is a desiccated dream poem that recalls Sandy Denny with some wonderful playing from her band. The album is sequenced as if it was a two sided vinyl affair with side two dedicated to Palmer’s delicate musings while the first half allows her to let her hair down and rock out a little. In reality this just means that the majority of the songs on side one are a little fuller, more fleshed out with instrumentation and strings. She does rock out on Dirty Little Secret which is a funky little blues rocker with guitarist Billy Buckley letting rip. Truth be told and despite it being a fine performance in its own right its almost akin to finding your parents making out on the sofa. You might admire their panache but it does upset the equilibrium. Little By Little is another up-tempo number but it flows much more smoothly with sparkling mandolin from Richard Curren and a driving rhythm that harks back to Mitchell’s Hejira. Time Of Thunder closes the first half and it’s a more successful amalgamation of the fire and earth that make up the album as Curran’s violin and Buckley’s guitar gimble and gyre like the venerable Fairport Convention back when Richard Thompson was a member. The rhythm section drive the song along as Palmer wallows again in the Denny stream. The most successful song on side one is Raising Hurricanes where Palmer tells a witchy tale of revenge that marries the traditional narrative of English folk song with a slinky Dobro driven southern states feel.
Side two starts off with the straightforward Song Of Drowning Sailors, a traditional sounding folk tale. Aside from the aforementioned Postcard From Paris and William Of the Desert Palmer offers two sides of the story of a failed love in the two part Haunted By A Stranger, his tale is wintry while hers is brighter and optimistic. She closes with the wonderful Fresco which is breathtaking in its delivery with a tender guitar solo, almost like a singing saw, casting light on a perfectly sung oblique love song. The ghost of Sandy Denny and the spirit of Joni Mitchell hover around this but ultimately Palmer owns this sublime song as she sings gloriously throughout it. Tender, affecting and passionate this is an almost perfect song which deserves to be heard by one and all.