|"Catch You As You Fall"|
|Reviewer: Ian Clarke|
|RATING: * * *|
I was introduced to
Dublin songwriter Celine Carroll by Fil Campbell (who covers two of Carroll's
songs on her new CD) and was fortunate to hear Celine play a few songs live as
support at one of Fil's concerts. I have to say that I was impressed by her
performance and also the well crafted original songs and looked forward eagerly
to hearing the CD.
And it is a
good CD. Make no mistake there is a great deal of potential here. From the first
verse of opening track Blame This World you know that Celine is a gifted artist,
accompanied by the versatile Declan Sinnott who also takes the roles of
recording engineer and producer. Therein lies the problem for me. The production
too often hi-jacks the songs and forces them to drive to Mary Blacksville. Is
that bad? Celine can be just as good but she has a wonderful style of her own
and too often it doesn't get breathing space.
to the songs. Blame this World is instantly hummable and reminiscent of Maura
O'Connell with a catchy, pop beat and chorus. Fallen from You is a soulful,
Simply Red style ballad with keyboards dominant, a repetitive refrain but not
guitar playing comes through stronger in Fence and it's a nice laid back pop
song which gives her vocals a chance to take flight and Sinnott plays tasteful
Don't Give Up
On Your Heart is "Tonight Matthew I'm Going To Be Mary Black" - a
lovely coffee table ballad, well sung and performed. Sinnott's guitar sound is a
bit cold and jangly here and I'd like to have heard a sax solo. The sound is
perhaps a bit dated.
Human Touch is
more of the same mood. Again great harmonies (with herself) on the chorus and
you can sing along. In general a bit more variation in pace would be nice to
give the album contrast.
On the Water
has a more jazzy, Mary Coughlan feel, and the usual Carroll popular hook.
Sinnott's guitar solos are a bit predictable and pedestrian at this stage and
the production lacks the dynamics that the song deserves.
Don't Get Me
Wrong is another soul ballad that lacks punch. Celine is in fine voice but the
pace flags and the arrangement needs to be fuller.
Catch You As
You Fall and Kept You in My Mind - are Stars in Their Eyes Mary Black soundalike
tracks, well constructed songs, nicely sung but again let down by uninspired
musicianship and production.
Hope is like early Coughlan with a swinging accordion accompaniment to a fadeout
that almost breaks out of the production stranglehold.
track in my opinion is the best. Innocence Lost is a song of which Mary Chapin
Carpenter would be proud, a lovely ballad, just voice and piano (Anth Kaley of
Kieran Halpin fame), which comes closest to the Celine Carroll who captivated me
live on stage.
reservations about production and arrangements I can recommend Celine's debut
CD. Her influences are impeccable but hopefully on some future recordings she'll
discover her own sound or capture the stage magic. Too often here the sound is a
compromise. She deserves more sympathetic (and imaginative) accompaniment. The
percussion for instance sounds computer generated and lacks subtlety. I would
have preferred a few more solo tracks, just guitar and voice. This recording was
probably done on a very tight budget and with a lot of help from friends. If
this occasionally shows, so does her tremendous potential. Never less than
listenable but much better live.