Green first sprung to public attention after winning Glastonbury’s New Talent competition (the indie X-Factor), allowing her to open on the Pyramid stage in 2007. She went down a storm, and began a flurry of festivals, gigs and international tours to promote her singles ‘Bad Medicine’ and ‘Midnight Blues’. Then followed a long intake of breath for her fans while she signed with Play It Again Sam, teamed up with producer Liam Watson (of White Stripes fame) and took her own sweet time over recording this debut album, ‘O, Devotion!’ – and boy was it worth the wait.
Green hails from NW England, but her sound places her somewhere between Liverpool and Louisiana. Her hauntingly beautiful and unique vocals over unfussy finger-picked guitar are joined by a spine rumbling brass section and double bass, wonky piano, and all this is seemingly recorded in a collier’s kitchen. (Actually, it was Toe Rag Studios in Hackney – but I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a knob on the board labelled ‘collier’s kitchen’.) Watson’s gramophoney recording crackles warmly of liquorish paper roll-ups, and moonshine – the result is nostalgically vintage, rather than fashionably so. Islington trendies look away: there’s nothing for you here.
The lyrics are maudlin, grubby and unpretentious – no self-indulgent romance in sight. She admits herself that someone generally kills themselves, or at the very least dies, in most of her songs.
She’s been likened to Billie Holiday and Judy Garland, but I’d give her more current credit and say she’s like The Unthanks meets Kate Bush meets Nick Cave. (Now there’s a good pub session.)
The lyrics are maudlin, grubby and unpretentious – no self-indulgent romance in sight. She admits herself that someone generally kills themselves, or at the very least dies, in most of her songs. (Hang him out to dry, they said / No, let's hang him up to die, instead – Ostrich Song.) So this is not the CD to get your Christmas party started. Rather, this is the soundtrack to your Sunday roast, your wintery countryside drive, or maybe just your pile of ironing.
Categorising the album proves a tricky task however: there’s blues, folk and jazz all rolled in there. But, when asked to define it, the lady herself says she wishes it would just called ‘pop’, because she wants it to be “popular music”. And so it should be.
Currently touring the UK and Europe, Green’s live show is an experience not to be missed. Expect puppetry, masks, and her trademark ‘mouth trumpet’ (oh yes). A magical world away from the sooty realism of the album, but both uniquely welcoming, charming, and full of Green’s dry, dark humour.
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