How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat
Amy Speace was a theatre actor – but she gave that career a break and became a singer/songwriter. How To Sleep In A Stormy Boat isn’t her first album but it is her best – so far – and hints at a strong talent, one that’s developing, maturing, one that has transcended the clichés of female singer/songwriter shtick. Here there’s sophistication to the arrangements, hints of country and folk flavours without ever committing – fully – to either. There’s something of Judy Collins to the voice, but the material deserves to sit alongside the best work from Alison Krauss and Lucinda Williams as much as it does Collins or Emmylou Harris.
In fact I was reminded of Aoife O’Donovan’s wonderful Fossils album when listening to Stormy Boat. Such commitment in both the singing and the writing – quite fearless.
Often it’s just the voice and the guitar to the fore – but this never feels like busking, like the clichés of female singer/songwriter shtick I mentioned above.
Vivid storytelling is at the heart of Speace’s songs – and there’s so much to soak up from this album, not least of all the wonderful duet with John Fullbright on The Sea & The Shore, something of a centrepiece. Fullbright bringing the gravel, a little (extra) toughness to offset the sweet charm of Speace’s voice.
There’s turmoil in the songs on this album – and then there’s a calmness to offset that, to cope with that – that’s the big clue behind the album’s title I guess; that Amy Speace has learned/is learning to cope, and that she has a way forward, a way through. Earnest songwriting and honest songwriting aren’t often actually the same thing. But here I believe her. I believe in her. I believe the songs – and I’m swept up in the performance. Her best album. Until the next album…