# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Finishing School - Destination Girl

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 30 / 12 / 2003

Finishing School - Destination Girl
Label: Track And Field
Format: CD


Dreamy debut solo album from Ladybug Transistor / Essex Green member Sasha Bell, which brings back memories of the great 60's chanteuses

A few years ago Idha (Mrs Andy ‘Oasis’ Bell) released a couple of superb but underrated albums on Creation. There is a lot of the same warm feeling about this, the first solo album from Ladybug Transistor / Essex Green member Sasha Bell, as there was on Idha’s albums. Maybe it’s the Scandinavian connection; Idha hails from Sweden and Bell recorded this batch of songs in Stockholm. Bell had toured extensively in Sweden with Ladybug Transistor and felt at ease in Stockholm. It certainly shows in these 9 songs which make up ‘Destination Girl’. All the songs are just that-songs. Real songs with strong melodies. They all have a lazy, dreamy sound to them. The laid back Scandinavian mood is further enhanced by the sound of Bell’s vocals. There are hints of both Nina Persson (Cardigans) and Lene Marlin in Bell’s delivery. But, as would be expected from a member of Ladybug Transistor, there has to be a slight twist. What makes Bell’s vocals so special (and believe me, they are) is a dash of one time 10,000 Maniacs Natalie Merchant (especially on opening track ‘Reno’) and an even bigger splash of the classic female singer/songwriters of the 60's. Margo Guryan, early Marianne Faithfull and Twinkle (yes, Twinkle, don’t be put off if your only point of reference was The Smiths awful cover of her ‘Golden Lights’) are the first that spring to mind. Bell has mixed all these classic voices into one of her own. And, boy, has she ever come up with some songs to showcase that voice. The opening song, ‘Reno’ really wouldn’t be out of place on a latter 10,000 Maniacs album. A tale of leaving and heading for a place “where I can’t be seen, another face walking right down the street” it is set to a typical Bell melody; one which you can’t get out of your head after just one listen. Despite its theme the melody is a happy, poppy one. The chorus is full of jangly guitars and it sets out Bell’s stall nicely for the eight tracks that follow. All the songs could be singled out here for attention, so strong is the selection but special mention should be made of the following songs; the title track ‘Destination Girl’ opens with some gorgeous keyboards, a lighter take on the opening of Dylan’s ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, before Bell’s vocals hit you with their beauty. All those 60's angels singing as one. “Nothing ever changes” are Bell’s last words on this song; with her 60's influences on show maybe it doesn’t, but Bell has used the past rather than got eaten by it to produce a sound which is as good today as it was then. ‘Day Is Over’ is another stunning song. Almost a lullaby, the lyrics “The day is over, I’m calming it down” are sung over a melody of acoustic guitars and gentle keyboards before closing with strings. The song could certainly lull the most restless soul off to a peaceful sleep full of good dreams. Then it’s straight into ‘Silent Space’, again a strong melody which won’t leave the brain once heard. Just listen to the last verse of this song, the music fades away and we are left with Bell alone singing “I can’t be the secret that you don’t want to keep” in such an innocent voice over a single keyboard line it’s heartbreaking. And so it goes on, nine songs and not a single urge to push the next button on the CD player; how many albums can we honestly say we listen to all the way through and want to listen to again over and over? But there’s more… the kind folks at Track and Field have added a bonus DVD in with this CD. We get to see the videos for the songs, ‘Destination Girl’ and ‘Hair’. The video for ‘Destination Girl’ is particularly good. It looks like it’s been shot through a net to give it an aged, grainy effect and comes complete with 2 alternative endings just like a real DVD! There is also a short film and footage of the Finishing School playing live. Plus the actual packaging of this CD is outstanding. Although only a simple 8 page booklet, the black and white photos of a forest and a lake, all taken by Bell, that appear on it manage to evoke the contents of the CD. This album is highly recommended to anyone with a love of strong melodies, who loves the female singing voice and is looking for something a little different to listen to in these long winter nights. But along with the excellent package this album comes in, it really is worth anyone’s money. Me, I’m off to listen to it again for the third time today.

Track Listing:-
1 Reno
2 Hair
3 Destination Girl
4 New Sensation
5 Day Is Over
6 Silent Space
7 Rowan's Theme
8 Morning Light
9 Page 16

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