Well was the new album worth the wait?
I spent a little time calming myself down when the album finally dropped through the letterbox. I was in an absolutely terrible mood and to have played the album immediately would not have done it justice. I had expected it to arrive a couple of days earlier as I’d paid for special delivery but Royal Mail decided to ignore that. I’m still waiting for the copies of the deluxe version which were also sent by special delivery and according to the tracking information are ‘on way to hub’ whatever that means! They’ve been on the way to the hub for 3 days now. Sorry I digress. Finally calm enough I put the CD on my audio system and pressed play.
As soon as the first notes of ‘Almost There’ started to play I was transported into another world. Then this soft restrained voice singing the first few words came and I was totally lost! All my anger vanished and all that existed was the feeling that I was listening to something magical and pretty amazing. Beautiful arrangement and the way the voice builds into the full power towards the end of the song had completely won me over and I hoped the rest of the album would be just as great. I was not disappointed at all. Every song brought a new magic with it and I didn’t want them to end. All too soon the final song ‘The Performance Of My Life’ started and the shivers went down my spine. Half way through the song my eyes began to fill and by the end notes the tears were flowing. Only Shirley can do that to me. She touches every nerve in my body and reaches my very soul. There was not a single song that I did not like. Even ‘Nice Men’ which I totally disliked when I first heard it sounded so good. The quality of the recording is exceptional. Who would have thought that she could take a simple ‘pretty’ song such as ‘After The Rain’ and sing it so gently as to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end? This CD certainly shows sides off Shirley we very rarely see and I have to say it does rank as one of her finest ever released. From the very first note to the last this album stirred up some very special feelings inside me.
I saw Shirley perform some of these songs at the Roundhouse and although the power of ‘Almost There’ and ‘The Performance ….. ‘ does not come over on the studio recordings I am not disappointed with them. She has always made a live performance sound something extra special with songs such as these two. I would have liked the PSB one to have been sung a little slower on the CD but saying that it has to be my very favourite on the album followed very closely by ‘Almost There’. ‘Apartment’, ‘This Time’ and ‘As God Is My Witness’ are also brilliant. Let’s be honest the whole album is superb! I will not be skipping a single track when I play it and it’s the first time I can honestly say I will have done that.
The album is very nicely presented also. It looks classy and there are a couple of very nice photographs in the booklet as well as the lyrics to the songs which is something I like.
Well was it worth the wait? The answer is a bloody great YES!