Light In The Attic
Sylvie Simmons’ songs are like whispered kisses, Howe Gelb’s thoughtful production means these songs almost arrive as if sung down the phone line, all that’s missing is the crackle of the fire – and you can certainly imagine that.
This is Sylvie Simmons’ debut album. She’s best known as one of the best rock writers on the planet and in recent years her extraordinary Leonard Cohen bio has taken her and her ukulele around the world spreading the good word, talking up Leonard and playing down her own musical skill. The reason this album works is because of the songs. They’re the postcards you hope to receive; the sacred/secret letters you wish you wrote or opened.
And they’re delivered in a voice that quietly coos in a calming way as if these bittersweet paeans (“my lips still taste of you”) were being offered by Marianne Faithfull one minute, Mary Margaret O’Hara the next.
There are times when you wonder if Cohen’s backing singers (his “Angels”) have – in some way – informed this work.
There are times when you feel like you’re eavesdropping, other times when you’re sure you are the one being sung to – this immaculate writing existing only and ever for you.
There are times when you marvel that a woman who has spent her life analysing music and pop-culture, interviewing the biggest names in music, befriending many of them in the process, is able to say so much in such short – breathy – spaces.
The gentle tinkle of piano framing Hard Act To Follow, the plaintive strumming behind Lonely Cowgirl, the perfect three-minute snapshots of Town Called Regret and Midnight Cowboy and a lovely lilt through Rhythm of The Rain. It’s all immaculate and impeccable – and then just rough-hewn enough too.
It’s an album to curl up with, something to keep you company at night, or in the wee small hours, glimmering bedsit perfection. Lovely.