Purely by chance I happened across a link in my social meeja trawling that publicised a new album by Linda Hoyle, a name that rang some distant bells in the compartment labelled “Record Collecting” in my aging noggin. Linda was the powerful singer featured on two of the better albums on the iconic Vertigo “swirl” label; Affinity by her rather fine jazz-rock band of the same name in 1970, and her first solo album Pieces Of Me, a year later. Since then, nothing has been forthcoming until this year when Friday 7th August will see the release of her second solo album The Fetch on the Angel Air label. You will find the story of the gestation of the album and much, much more in my interview with Linda, HERE.
Supported by a cast of seasoned musicians, including Linda’s husband Nick Nicholas, drummer Gary Husband, B.J. Cole, and many others, the album is as classy as it gets, the combined skills of the team making for a pleasant and involving listening experience.
Central to the project is another ex-Affinity member Mo Foster, who supplied direction, production, motivation and support along with his intimate knowledge of the bass guitar, as well as keyboards and other instruments. Recorded in Canada where Linda has lived for some time, and the UK, the Anglo end of the operation revolved around Oliver Whitehead, another old friend whom Linda has known for thirty years. Oliver wrote the music to seven of these songs, to Foster’s four, with the soundscape to the thoroughly eerie Earth And Stars being written by sound designer Jack Hey. All the highly personal and reflective lyrics are Linda’s, and as is the modern way, the album was compiled from files winging their way to and fro across The Pond in many different studios at either end of the wire.
Bluesy introspection and gentle contemplation are the main themes, and the album sees Linda reminiscing, with the opening title track rather cleverly making reference to each of the following songs, and the concluding Acknowledgements being just that, with Linda tipping a hat to a few important musical figures in her life, in the style of a church hymn.
In a thoroughly “prog” fashion, ironically for an album that is mostly anything but, the song The Fetch is intended as “…an incantation, (to) gather things together, haunt people”, and was based on a 17th century poem that includes the line “For I shall go into a hare”, which references a spell for entering an animal in order to seek out concealed or misplaced items. Musically, the tune weaves its magic in a subtle fashion, early cyclical arpeggios underpinned by Corrina Silvester’s tom-toms, building to gentle drama. This track is as “prog” as this album gets.
Linda’s voice is as clear as ever, probably benefitting from its owner not having lived a life on the road. Listen no further than the delightful Brighton Pier or Snowy Night for proof. Fortuna is a highlight, a slightly world-weary tale backed by a Hammond-led slow blues containing a delightful organ solo by Jim Watson, followed by some stirring ensemble brass. Maida Vale (the old BBC sessions venue) commences with the ghostly voice of Humphrey Littleton introducing Affinity on his radio show from a time long past.
Linda has always had a folk influence in her work, and the fiddle, mandolin and accordion on It’s The World takes this tradition onwards. Earth And Stars goes further back in time and sounds like a modern take on a medieval madrigal, Jack Hey’s ambient sound design conjuring images of fog-shrouded moors, all very spooky! The song was inspired by Purcell’s Dido’s Lament from 1688.
I bet you’ll have guessed where the cover art comes from – I won’t go into that here, more is revealed in the interview HERE.
The Fetch is a highly enjoyable album that defies easy categorisation – Linda would not have it any other way! – and one that any lover of “the song” in all its forms will enjoy, a must for those of us who remember, even at some years remove via the arcane delights of record collecting, the belting jazz rock of Affinity and Linda’s more eclectic 1970 solo album Pieces Of Me.
Linda, having rediscovered her muse, is eager to make more music, and with the tantalising prospect of UK gigs in the hopefully not too distant future, things are looking good for Linda Hoyle, and I for one will be following this late blooming with anticipation.
01. The Fetch (5:16)
02. Cut And Run (5:02)
03. Confessional (4:35)
04. Brighton Pier (3:55)
05. It’s The World (5:19)
06. Fortuna (5:20)
07. Snowy Night (6:20)
08. West Of The Moon (4:16)
09. Maida Vale (4:55)
10. So Simple (4:56)
11. Earth And Stars (4:53)
12. Acknowledgements (4:29)
Total Time – 59:22
Linda Hoyle – Vocals
Oliver Whitehead – Guitars & Keyboards
Mo Foster – Bass, Fretless Bass, Guitars, Drums, Drum Programming, Choir Programming, Brass Programming, Recorders, Mandolin, Percussion & Keyboards
Corrina Sylvester – Percussion
Jack Hey – Sound Design
Jim Watson – Electric Piano, Hammond Organ
Dougie Boyle – Guitar & Electric Sitar
Nick Nicholas – Double Bass
Chris Briscoe – Soprano & Alto Saxophones
Bill Worrall – Piano & Church Organ
Chris Haigh – Fiddle
Julian Littman – Mandolin & Accordion
Gary Husband – Drums & Electric Piano
Rupert Cobb – Trumpet
B J Cole – Pedal Steel Guitar
Ray Russell – Acoustic Guitar
Peter Van Hooke – Drums
Humphrey Littleton – Narration
Wendy Hoile – Additional Vocals
Friends of OIART – Choir
Record Label: Angel Air
Year Of Release: 2015