Gwyneth Herbert - Bittersweet and Blue
The first track on this album is a cover of 'Fever', which, believe us, sets the tone for the rest of the album. Herbert, from the evidence presented by the album cover, sees herself as some sort of melancholy diva for the 2000's and, when you listen to the album, you can't help conclude she might have a point. But then, the cover of Tom Waits' 'Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night' kicks in, and you begin to suspect there's one flaw in here. It's not that she adds little to an excellent song, and who would argue with the quality of the original, but this album consists of mainly cover versions.
There's nothing strictly wrong with that, Cole Porters 'Every Time We Say Goodbye' is a wonderful song, but it has been for quite some time. The shame of this is that Herbert does have a fine, dusky voice but it would be great to hear some great new songs as well. It's not like she can't; 'Bittersweet and Blue' is, as you'd expect, a bittersweet country tinged ballad that stands out. 'Fallen' also stands out, with a delicate structure that worms its way under your skin.
There's nothing here that you wouldn't find performed with much more oomph by the wonderful Holly Golightly. If Herbert has a flaw it's a tendency to under perform her own songs and rely far too much on other people's songwriting skills. Having said that, as late night mood music, it's a great little album, but we can only hope there's much better to come.