Monica Queen - Return of The Sacred Heart

A few years back, Monica Queen came to prominence fronting the Scottish outfit Thrum but has since ventured out as a solo artist. Her previous effort, Ten Sorrowful Mysteries showcased her delicate voice - somewhere between Emmylou Harris and the McGarrigle sisters - but the strong songwriting was let down slightly by a repetitive production. Lessons have been learnt as the present Return of the Sacred Heart avoids this pitfall and ups the songwriting by a few extra notches. Although the instrumentation relies heavily on an acoustic guitar/ethereal electric guitar combo, they have been flexible with the arrangments - Deja Vu, for example, relyies solely on strings - and this gives the album more subtlety.

What the producer has clearly understood is that the focal point should be Ms. Queen's voice which conveys a wide range of emotions with a clear sense of frailty, as if her voice might break at any given point. With her voice as the centerpiece, you're certain not to go wrong - in fact, the sole criticism I would make of the production is that of giving the entire proceedings an overly echoey feel - it works quite well most of the time but sometimes it becomes a little overwhelming...

The Americana influences are quite evident with the album exuding a similar sonic approach that Daniel Lanois gave Emmylou on her now seminal Wrecking Ball release. Return of the Sacred Heart offers proof you don't have to born the other sound of the pond to produce records that sound genuine and heartfelt. Recommended listening and well worth seeing live...



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