Amy LaVere. Painting Blue. Archer Records

a1220605408_16Compared to her peers, Amy LaVere flies seriously under the radar. She has a fierce fan group but unfortunately, that’s not reflected in the mass media despite a critically well-respected back catalogue. To be honest, Painting Blue probably won’t change that but it will delight those in the know while we’d challenge anyone who has an ear for velvety Americana musings not to immediately like this album. The immediate lure is LaVere’s seductive voice, soft and silky, warm and comfortable; she could sing the alphabet and make it sound interesting. Then there’s the music, immaculately played, an eiderdown of gliding guitars and tender percussion with occasional strings and things all adding to a listening experience which is at times dreamlike.

A more than able writer, LaVere has a history of slotting interesting cover versions into her albums and so it is here as she opens the disc, rather bravely, with her take on John Martyn’s I Don’t Want To Know (Americanised here to I Don’t Wanna Know). It’s brave because Martyn’s original is definitive and it’s rare that any cover could hold a candle to it. LaVere’s rendition is upscale sophisticated lounge jazz and will probably bewitch newcomers to the song but it’s, to say the least, an odd start. Further on, she sings Elvis Costello’s Shipbuilding more successfully, transforming it into a childlike fantasy while a cover of David Halley’s Stick Horse Kid is a sublime accordion spiced slice of blue collar American life.

She really gets into gear on No battle Hymn which prowls wonderfully in full band mode with swirling organ and pulsating rhythm as LaVere laments the current state of the world. Painting Blue On Everything is another fully pumped up song with organ stabs, gutsy guitar and swirling strings with LaVere positively crooning on what could be a love song to Picasso or just a personal memory of a lover. There are some lighter moments as on the fleet footed Girlfriends with its slight Mexicana tilt while Not in Memphis burbles with elements of southern soul especially in the playful organ fills. The summit is achieved in two songs midway through. Love I’ve Missed wanders wonderfully with glimmering guitars and glossy pizzicato strings as LaVere goes all bedsit lost romance on us while the immense No Room For Baby does seem like a personal confessional, LaVere singing about not being a mother, taking that decision which is often weaponised against women. It’s a tremendous song as the players flit in and out – weeping strings, female chorus singers and pattering percussion – along with LaVere’s intimate voice centre place in what is a powerful performance.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s