Carol Grimes

Mother, Irregular, £13.99 - Arts Telegraph - 17/01/2005

Arts Telegraph

Not every singer's first reaction, on finding their work slotted away under "folk", will be one of unbounded joy, and memory suggests that Carol Grimes's name could be found among cooler company in the pages of the rock weekly Melody Maker back in the 1960s. But her new album, with its strands of jazz, blues and folk but no dominant mood, is a challenge for any attempt to categorise.

Overwhelmingly, the mix works very well indeed. Ian Shaw's production is an important asset, but Grimes has retained classy vocal skills and her choice of writers – Joni Mitchell, Shane MacGowan, Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and John Lennon among them – confirms a lively and curious musical mind. I have heard better versions of Sandy Denny's Who Knows Where the Time Goes?, but that has far more to do with the jarring male voices of the chorus than Grimes's interpretation.

Her own compositions, melancholic and reflective without being rambling, provide perfectly respectable companions for the material of better-known writers, and the instrumental arrangements are exemplary, underpinning the attractive, lived-in vocals of a superior English singer.

Colin Randall