Annie Grace,
Take Me Out Drinking Tonight
(Greentrax, 2004)

With this CD in your collection I guarantee that you will not be asking anyone to take you out drinking. You will want to stay in and savour the delights of Annie Grace.

Take Me Out Drinking Tonight is Annie's first solo release but her history in performing is well established. Here she combines a number of styles from folk to jazz.

As a little aside, might I quote from a novel by Val McDermid about jazz? In "Blue Genes" she has a character say that jazz is for anoraks who think they are too intellectual for trainspotting. (That sound is the jazz fans clicking to another review.)

Back to Annie Grace, an artist who is confident enough to tackle new work but also to rework some traditional pieces. "The Trees They Grow High" is a traditional song that opens the album and it will grab even the casual listener. Other traditional tracks, which receive the "Grace notes," are "Bonny at Morn" and "Farewell to Lochbaber."

Annie is an accomplished writer in her own right and this is well borne out on the fantastic track "Solitude." This song evokes a feeling of the title in its most creative, constructive and positive aspect. The performance is simple and does not get in the way of the lyrics.

Another song where simple rendition is a great touch is the heartrending "Magdalene Laundry." Recalling some very dark days of religious oppression for women, Annie gives this song a haunting and very personal treatment. "Summerfly" is the most jazz-oriented track on the CD and it will have anyone tapping along and trying to sing along. That is a curious aspect of this album; Annie makes it sound so simple, we all think we could do it.

The title track is coupled with a lovely "The Salimony Waltz" and is a great alternative to that night out. This is beautifully performed with harmony vocals. I particularly liked "Land o' the Leal," an old song from Scotland that is again performed with a minimum of ornamentation.

The CD closes with two songs from the pen of Andrew Finlayson, "Feast or Famine" and "Sing Me Something Simple," another of those songs that makes me want to get out that guitar and get out there and sing -- but few of us could do it the justice that Annie does.

If 2004 continues to produce albums like this, it should be a vintage year.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 27 March 2004

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