Concrete Love

Julia Fordham

Vanguard Records, 2002

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Julia Fordham is the Next Big Thing amongst the singer-songwriter set, apparently. Her new CD, Concrete Love, is hyped, double-hyped, and doubled-down, to the point where one begins to wonder if it's the second coming of Janis Ian or somethin'.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Sometimes, CDs are worth the hype. Unfortunately, Concrete Love isn't.

Part of my job here is to pin down what is ultimately unsatisfying on Concrete Love, and it's a toughie. It's not that Fordham isn't talented. She is, immensely, and her own musicianship, as well as that of her backing musicians, is excellent. The production and engineering on the CD is great, crystalline and unobtrusive, letting the music shine through. The songs are range from OK to excellent -- "Butterfly" and "Foolish Thing" are the cream of the crop, and they're really, really good, as is the duet with Joe Henry, "Alleluia".

What seems to be missing from the equation is passion. Fordham's voice isn't terribly expressive -- there is some similarity to the Valium-laced wistfulness in Margo Timmins' voice -- which means that songs that should come out heartrending barely make it to heartpoking. I have no doubt that Fordham feels strongly about her songs, but it almost never translates to any real feeling in the listener. Songs like "Roadside Angel" and "Wake Up With You" should have evoked something in me; instead, they left me mostly cool. This CD never caught me up, and for a singer/songwriter that's a major flaw. One of the few moments that the emotion finally shows through is a hidden track at the end, a cover of Minnie Riperton's "Loving You". It may be the best thing on the CD. (And Fordham gets bonus points for her ability to hit that note only dogs can hear.)

Julia Fordham has talent, and I have no doubt that she has great CDs within her capabilities. Next time, perhaps, she shouldn't polish the grit off so much. This time, it turned what might have been a great CD to at best a mediocre one.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2002 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Vanguard Records, and is used for informational purposes only.