Tuesday, September 29, 2009


BANBURY : October 02
CANTERBURY: October 03
BEWDLEY : October 15
DARTFORD: October 16
BRAINTREE: October 17
LIVERPOOL: October 21

Beverley Craven's released her first album in ten years. (The last one, "Mixed Emotions," was recorded at Abbey Road). "Close to Home" on her own Campsie Music label, is available direct via her website. Two highlights are the captivating "Is it Only Me?" which has a bit of the minor key pop-hook magic of ABBA (pardon the expression) and the cutting "Fun, Fun Fun," which are purely Craven-crafted, with her softly urgent vocals seasoned by varying influences, from R&B (she was once a back-up singer for Bobby Womack) to the flights of fancy associated with Kate Bush.

Beverley took her long hiatus to raise her family. Her career started with one of the most spectacular debuts in British pop history. Her first album went double platinum (over a million sold) and stayed on the U.K. charts for a solid year. Her breathy phrasing is unique; nobody sounds like her. The warm, wistful and romantic "Promise Me" was a big International hit, and while there were tasty numbers on her next two albums, trying to live up to the first had to be frustrating.

To be honest, some of her material is definitely girly-girl, or "View"-worthy ("Woman to Woman" and a number about the "tick tock of her biological clock.") Some of her new songs are candy-coated, but it does seem that many Beverley fans crave that side of her. At the Illfolks blog, the first track, the McCartneyesque "Rainbow," is always skipped. It opens: "Look at that bird, sitting in a tree, singing its little heart out! Look at that cloud, a picture in the sky, and the sunlight through the leaves. All I know, it's beautiful...there are no rainbows without the rain!"

In America, with an overwhelming number of jazz-pop women on the charts, from Basia to Whitney Houston to Carly Simon, Craven made less of an impression, and that first album didn't stay on the charts anywhere near the year it did in the U.K. I knew nothing about her when I happened upon her CD in a store, and her slightly melancholy cover photo (and her last name) plus the stamp of Epic made it seem well worth a gamble.

Your introduction to Beverley Craven is the last cut on that first album from 1990. It's atypical, really, since she's using more of her smooth groove voice. A dirge ballad with more than a dash of New Orleans funeral music to it, "Missing You" is the kind of song of sweet sorrow that recalls romantic writers of the past, include Edgar A. Poe. (Poe fans no doubt wish that Beverley was somehow related to Dr Erasmus Craven, as played by Vincent Price in "The Raven.")
MISSING YOU. But fans missing Beverley Craven for 10 years...she's BACK!

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