(13 April 2001) Since seeing Claire Hammill open for Renaissance
on 09 March 2001 at the London Astoria and meeting her in the dressing room
afterwards, we're pleased to review the reissue of her 1984 album
Touchpaper (Blueprint Records (UK) BP306CD, 2000) as the conclusion
to this Digest. Claire Hammill was recently featured in the CRS magazine
Wondrous Stories and she has also recently performed at HLC Rotherham.
Opening for Renaissance she was accompanied by another guitarist; she played
for a half hour.
One of the definitive female vocalists of song-based progressive
rock, her album Touchpaper illustrates her expansive vocal range and
sonic power. "The Moon Is A Powerful Lover" blends soaring vocalise with
evocatively sung powerful lyrics reminding us of Sally French (who u
nfortunately disappeared after one album on SI Music). The album's title
is derived from the lyric of "Denmark" which is sung in a very experimental
Kate Bush or Michelle Young (review)
style. The track "2 Fools In A Storm" is much more jazz-oriented with
instrumentals dominated by saxophone.
Again we were reminded of Sally French's work in the upbeat
track "First Night In New York." Symphonic instrumentals provide a lovely
texture under the lead and backing vocal layers. Crisp percussion and
upbeat rock arrangements compliment
Claire's vocal lead in the very 1980s-sounding "Come Along
Brave Lads." "Jump" and "Gonna Be The One" are
pop-oriented tunes with lush keyboard arrangements
rhythmic bass and Renaissance Time-Line style
vocal lines. The variety of vocal textures works
quite nicely. "In The Palm Of My Hand" is significantly
more dance club oriented than the other tracks on the
album. Claire's voice soars easily and evocatively
above the instrumental arrangements.
"Ultra Violet Light" is substantially more dark and
moody with guitars dominating the arrangements behind
Claire's punky style vocal part. "Once Is Not Enough"
is an upbeat, dance club oriented track, dominated
by a funky keyboard part that concludes the album.
Certainly very different from the albums reviewed
above, this Claire Hammill album is an equally
compelling female vocals album.
An extensive portion of Claire Hammill's back catalog is now
available on Voiceprint/Blueprint and, with the extensive range of styles
she has recorded, should be sought out by female vocalist enthusiasts.
We have plans to do an interview and retrospective review of her work
at Musical Discoveries in the future. This album certainly serves as a
lovely introduction to the artist's work and is a very nice listen!