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Cortney Tidwell - Debut mini-LP reviewed

Cortney Tidwell, mini-album

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

LISTENING to a couple of tracks on Cortney Tidwell’s debut self-titled mini-album, it would be easy to imagine that the distinctive singer hailed from the same neck of the woods as Bjork.

Yet Tidwell is actually a native of Nashville, Tennessee, even though her music sounds positively Icelandic at times, thanks to her soaring vocals and highly atmospheric style which, at several points, is certain to draw favourable comparisons with Bjork.

Elsewhere, there’s a smattering of the Deep Southern influences that are more commonly associated with that neck of the woods, and a country and western style.

Yet this mini-album doesn’t conform to expectation, opting instead to drift into several different directions and impressing just the same.

At different points, her music flits between moments of staggering, desolate, country infused laments sprinkled with subtle flourishes of electronics and skeletal, eerie, haunting structures that reach out far beyond their geographic roots. Other names, such as Hope Sandoval and Liz Fraser spring to mind.

Ironically, many of the tracks (however serene and beautiful) stem from great personal tragedy caused by the affects of seeing her mum cope with manic depression while she was growing up.

Opening track, Mama From The Mountain is a classic case in point, a haunting, almost ethereal track that is constructed around some hypnotic, subtle beats and plenty of orchestral vocal layering (a la Bjork at her most stripped down).

Needless to say, the music takes a little getting used to, but there’s no denying its ability to creep into the sub-conscious.

Hard To Tell is another track of shimmering beauty (Bjork-like again) that succeeds by putting Tidwell’s orchestral vocals to the fore, especially early on. The track is probably the most out-and-out catchy of all six tracks and will probably be the one to win her the most fans. The vocal layering on this one is particularly beguiling.

Elsewhere, the achingly poignant So I’ll Go Out And Meet My Love brought back memories, for me, of Roberta Flack’s equally poignant The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (used to memorable effect on the Play Misty For Me soundtrack).
While her Grand Ole Opry country roots (her grandfather performed there) are fully evident on The Light a lazy amble through some more distinct music-making.

As stated, Tidwell’s other-worldly style won’t be for everyone but for those who like their music to offer something different it’s certainly worth checking out.

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Track listing:

  1. Mama From The Mountain
  2. Drink Up
  3. Hard 2 Tell
  4. Light
  5. So I’ll Go Out and Meet My Love
  6. Fever Queen