WORTH A LOOK?: ****
RELEASED: 2/11/18 (UK)
RUNNING ORDER: A Northern Soul; Handle With Care; Priceless; Are You Just Sleeping; Remedy In The Melody; Rock Bottom; Why Can’t I Fall In Love; Ain’t That Funny; Sweetest Of Thieves; Listen To The Rain; The One; Don’t Beg For Love
Smith’s 1st album Sheridan was last year’s 2nd best selling debut by a UK woman, behind only Dua Lipa’s Brit Award winner.
- Read on for reasons including where to buy tickets for Sheridan’s One Night Only at The O2
A surprise perhaps because you could be forgiven for thinking she might have entered into the world of solo long players much earlier – and also because its release followed a much-publicised breakdown during a West End-starring run in Funny Girl.
So what’s new? Well, Sheridan was a well-chosen if safe album of covers that shed some light on the singer’s state of mind and she toured it to much acclaim not least headlining the Royal Albert Hall this year.
A Northern Soul is co-written by Smith and appears to be a no-holds barred reflection both on how she feels now and is viewed by others, backed by the same authentic band sound with a hint of Motown of her debut.
The title track and sitar-friendly album opener is perhaps where the music is at its catchiest and the lyrics worth repeating: ‘Only A Northern Soul makes me feel alright when I get me in trouble, trouble like you.’
Handle With Care recalls the Bee Gees’ Stayin’ Alive and the lyrics are even more memorable: ‘I’m the girl that your mama warned you about, I’m the last girl standing on a night out’ and ‘I go off like a rocket, I’m on dynamite, I’m the firework lighting up the whole damn sky.’
Pictured above is lead single Priceless which is a strong start to this album campaign and representative of the remaining 11 tracks on this long player.
But don’t forget your hankies for Are You Just Sleeping? (a sure-fire Christmas radio hit) which appears to be an understated and touching celebration of the father and brother that she has lost. It’s worthy of a West End showstopper in the story of Sheridan’s life.
It reminds of Adele as a beautiful piano motif repeats below lyrics including: ‘Are You Just Sleeping? Is this a dream? I’ve still got far too many problems to figure out, So don’t go to bed ‘cos I am not ready to say goodnight yet.’
And: ‘You bring the music and I’ll bring the songs and we’ll sing them.’Cos we’re the real stars, no-one knows who we are but we’ll show them.’ and: ‘Didn’t you tell me 100s of times that I’d be OK, I’d survive? Didn’t you say you’d always be there, now you’re just a voice in my mind.’
Elsewhere, Remedy In The Melody returns to a familiar theme about finding comfort in music. It mentions stars like Johnny Cash, Dolly and Aretha and we love the line: ‘If you wanna know me, You’re gonna find me in a bar room, Singing out at the top of my lungs like I don’t care.’
It would have been all too easy to rush out another covers album but A Northern Soul is an illuminating triumph of memorable, heartfelt and affecting songs.
After The 02 gig we’d love for Sheridan to take it out on a regional tour with many more dates than this year’s.
- Picture via Facebook courtesy Sheridan Smith. Tickets
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