Cerys Matthews – Cockahoop

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Album Review by EDF

Here’s something you don’t see too often, a recording artist who bravely goes off on a tangent when embarking on their first solo venture. In a way Cerys Matthews just never seemed to fit in with the rest of the other Britpop acts except when it came to the party girl headlines that the rest of the artists seem to embrace around that time. Perhaps it was the constant pressure to produce decent pop tunes that might have caused Catatonia to split up but one thing is certain, Cerys seems to be enjoying her latest project.

Recorded in Nashville and produced by the legendary steel guitarist Bucky Baxter, who is best known for playing with the likes of Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams and Steve Earle, we find Cerys in a more relaxed mood, letting her voice carry the songs along with a more stripped down, acoustic accompaniment. Here various styles such as folk, country, pop and soul are attempted but with Cerys recognisable vocals making each track her own.

From the opening CHARDONNAY, a kind of reflection of her party days to the final track, ALL MY TRIALS, this album is not just Cerys trying something new, it’s more of a release to prove that not only can she try her hand at what most artists would not attempt to do but also finds her shedding her previous image with style. Throughout the album, we find tracks such as LA BAGUE where Cerys vocals flow freely to a swinging country backdrop. Anyone doubting Cerys’ voice only has to listen to ONLY A FOOL who delivers a sweet, venerable performance. IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR LOVE just defies what category to fit this tune where country finds itself at a musical crossroad, wondering which direction to take.

That is what makes COCKAHOOP an enjoyable, if not unusual experience. This is Cerys reinventing as well as projecting a bit of herself within the tracks on the album.

5 stars