Liz Clarke – Destiny
1. Driftin’ Sun
2. Red Red Rose
3. My Destiny
5. Give Me The Answer
6. Burning With The Blues
Since the release of “Path of Dreams” Liz Clarke has continued to periodically colaborate and record with multi-instumentalist, arranger and producer Paul Mcilwaine, who worked extensively with Liz on “Path of Dreams”.
In these sessions they both took the opportunity to write and record songs in differing styles and which lyrically have seen Liz broadening her areas of influences. They viewed this as a chance for both of them to stretch, have fun and new experiences while creating. These recordings sat on the hard drive in Paul’s studio until Plankton Records heard some of them and subsequently encouraged Liz and Paul to pull an album’s worth of material together in order to give others the chance to share in the fruits of their labour. And the result is “Destiny”
The album features 10 songs that range from fast blues, through West Coast flavoured rock, heart felt ballads to haunting interpretations of some traditional Irish songs – drawing on the beautiful Celtic heritage of their birthplace. There’s even a cover of a classic show tune thrown in for good measure.
“Destiny” is not a true follow up to “Path of Dreams”, it more of a ‘rarities and B sides’ type album but while we wait for a new full ‘project’ album from the beautiful clear voice of Liz Clarke we can all enjoy the diversity of “Destiny”.
Highly experienced singer Liz Clarke returns with her new album, ‘Destiny‘, drawn from sessions with multi-instumentalist, arranger and producer Paul Mcilwaine that have taken place over the last few years. Moody electric guitars open first track ‘Driftin’ Sun‘ before Liz’s strong and equally moody voice rings out. This slow atmospheric track drifts along, sounding like the kind of evocative track that would be used for a documentary soundtrack. The guitar switches to acoustic for ‘Red Red Rose‘, and the vocals take on a beautiful spine-tingling pitch for this gentle ballad.
I love the intriguing words that dominate the opening of ‘My Destiny‘. “On the outside I am smiling I’ve got my mask on so no one can see. Hiding from the judging voices reaching to the world, reaching out to me.” With a solemn sounding piano in the background, the chorus cries out “Gotta find freedom, gotta find peace, gotta find love living in me.” The haunting sounds hovering around in the background add a delicious shiver to yet another stunning ballad from Liz.
The sound quickly contrasts to the Jazz sounding ‘Summertime‘, picking up the tempo and spreading an upbeat happy feel. The instruments really come into their own on this track, with some fabulous old school electric guitar riffs given time and space to do their thing.
The hints of that very modern style of orchestral strings on ‘Give Me The Answer‘ brings this album right up to date. The moving lyrics look for answers to injustices in life. “I watched my Mother work, so my life could be, better than her own childhood poverty.”
It took me a while to work out what ‘She Moved Through The Fair‘ reminded me of, and then it hit me. There’s something about the eerie music, drifting vocals and slow moody tempo of this song that just kept bringing me back to Simple Minds’ 1989 classic ‘Belfast Child‘. Maybe that’s just me, but nonetheless, it’s a powerful and haunting track.
There’s something of a fanfare and triumphant swagger to ‘Threw It All Away‘. It’s the kind of song that features as the finale in a West-End musical, where all the actors come back on stage for the last hurrah. Maybe it would have worked better as the final track, but hey there’s always an encore, right? And what an encore final track ‘It Will Be Alright‘ turns out to be. With reassuring lyrics, well crafted acoustic and electric guitars, perhaps even an organ lingering in the background there somewhere, Liz again delivers her trademark exquisite vocals on this gem of a song. My only complaint? It fades to silence way too soon!
The diversity of music on this album sees Liz’s wonderful vocals accompany songs that you wouldn’t typically expert a Folk/Celtic singer to attempt. But her vocal strength transcends the musical genres and, backed by some clearly talented musicianship, the resulting set of songs is both surprising, delightful and worthy of accolade. 4 stars – Louder Than The Music (UK)
Northern Ireland’s Liz Clarke follows up her 2011 release, ‘Path of Dreams’ with this 10 track album. In contrast to her previous album, there’s less emphasis on the contemporary celtic style, and more a leaning to rhythm & blues. Saying that, there’s a definite 70’s progressive rock sound to the opening ‘Driftin’ Sun’. The Robert Burns poem ‘Red Red Rose’ is put to a gentle acoustic guitar backing and on this track, Liz’s vocals are perfect. There’s not any real overtly Christian message in any of the songs, but I thought that ‘My Destiny’ could well have told the story of the search for Christ in one’s life. There’s some nice guitar work from co-songwriter, Paul Mciwaine, on a blues version of George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. Here, the vocals soar and wrap themselves lovingly around each word. ‘Burning With the Blues’ gets a mention for being one of the most miserable songs I’ve ever heard, but Liz redeems herself with the wistful, celtic lament ‘She Moved Through the Fair’. I’m not quite sure of the track listing itself because, towards the end of the album, the guitar solo’s of Mcilwaine become rather repetitive and intrusive. On songs like ‘Threw It All Away’ (a 12 bar blues), ‘When You Are Near’ and ‘It Will Be Alright’ the guitar really detracts from Liz’s voice and sometimes sounds alien to the track.. The result is a pity, for me, as the basic love song, that is, ‘When You Are Near’ is a lovely number. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that Liz, herself, has a terrific voice that commands a larger audience. 7/10 – Never For Nothing (UK)
Liz has steadily built up a growing following for her part-country, part-Celtic, part-pop fusion and her previous album on Plankton, ‘Path Of Dreams’, has shown her to be a major talent. On the opener here, a tendril of smoky, sensuous, sultry sound assaults the ears as “Burning With The Blues” snakes through the air and begins to weave its musical and lyrical magic on the ears. Some other tracks are equally pleasing. “Driftin’ Sun” gently tugs the listener in while her cover of the Porgy & Bess standard “Summertime” also works well. Liz’s self-penned lyrics explore life issues, love in “Red Red Rose”, pain in “My Destiny” and joyful expectation in “Give Me The Answer”. The production at times lacks a little depth and in support of Liz’s voice some backing vocals would not have gone amiss. However, this is still an interesting set by the Irish songstress for the uninitiated. 7/10 CrossRhythms