Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Review - Helen McCookerybook - Green

Helen McCookerybook - Green (Big Song Records)


Out Now

Founding member of The Chefs and Helen & The Horns, Scottish singer/songwriter releases her new album. 

There’s something very special about a new album from Helen McCookerybook.  Whether it be the fascinating backdrop to every song or the soothing voice that accompanies the intricate guitar, it’s always there.  Always with an interesting lyric that can either amuse or sadden, a quirky guitar pluck that stands out from the track or that gorgeously pure voice that entices the listener in, it’s always there.  That’s not to say that Helen McCookerybook is predictive, she is only predictive in her unpredictiveness.

There’s a beauty to her voice, an innocence, the girl-next-door almost.  It accompanies her guitar playing gracefully and it just sounds, well, brilliant.  Her songs are simplicity, nothing over complicated but always enthralling.  Humorous, serious, daft, her songs entertain in equal proportion whether it be studio recorded or performed live.

Green – the colour, environmental overtones or naturalist?  It could be all three but to a great extent really doesn’t matter.  Opener, Rainbow Of The Colour Green is a lesson in perfect songwriting.  Helen’s voice works as an instrument rather than an accompaniment and the sublime guitar playing leads to a playful chorus which sends shivers down your spine as a sad lyric becomes eternally springful.

These Streets is haunting, literally, the tale of a widower, of lost love gone forever before A Good Life With A Bad Apple which, whilst having an uplifting feel maybe hides a sadder scenario.  Backing vocals are provided by Helen herself and sound almost boogie-woogie Andrews Sisters style and, give a  comforting chill that often exudes.

Helens lyricism reaches its finest with tracks like So Long, Elon which are almost like a black comedy.  There’s a funny side to the words but behind the smirking is a more serious tale of our contempt for planet Earth as psychopathic billionaires travel off to inhabit Mars and, Soldier Joe seems to hint at a confused love and reciprocal Stockholm Syndrome.

Change The DJ has you wanting to break into The Smiths’ Panic and New York simply melts your heart.  Closing with Saturday Night With The London Set, Helen is joined by ex Subway Sect member Vic Goddard on guitar, Dave Morgan (Primal Scream, The Weather Prophets) on drums and Ruth Tidmarsh on bass who also provided photography for the album sleeve, on a track written after a night out at The Lexington watching The Monochrome Set.

If you’ve never listened to Helen McCookerybook then this is yet another album of hers to start your adventure.  It’s soothing, intelligent and witty approach is refreshing and the proficient musicianship on show is heart-warming and genuinely pleasing.  Essential.


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