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Kirsty McGee and the Hobopop Collective - No. 5

  by Lisa Torem

published: 30 / 3 / 2010

Kirsty McGee and the Hobopop Collective - No. 5
Label: Hobopop
Format: CD


Strikingly heartfelt fifth album from jazz-influenced Manchester-based singer-songwriter Kirsty McGee, recorded live with her band, the Hobopop Collective

Manchester-based Kirsty McGee and the Hobopop Collective; James Steel, Christopher Cundy and Clive Mellor recorded ‘No. 5: A Live Album’ exactly the way it sounded on the 10th October 2009. The nine songs reflect Kirsty’s versatile vocal range and, what seems to be, her proclivity for swing and strikingly heartfelt ballads. The fact that it was recorded live actually adds to the recording. The band seems to derive energy from the audience, and though I’m not sure if they followed a pre-arranged set list, the diverse range of repertoire is impressive. ‘Omaha’ reads like an American short story. “She was born on the farm in 1957/She hung out with the freaks/Danced around the flames/She found the love of her life in a broken down car.” Lyrics like these stick-to-your ribs and provide the framework for the subsequent tunes. ‘Alibi Blues’ is an uber-fast swing/blues and sets off with great vigour, like a derby race horse. Strains of a Klezmer clarinet weave through the vocals. Kirsty’s beautiful voice is understated, but skilled at articulating genre-specific nuance. ‘Last Orders’ takes on a more sombre eloquence heralding a mournful, weeping underbelly. “Take the bullets from the sheath till the orders come/Wash your face before your hands.” ‘The Last to Understand’ has a simple, country sweetness and haunting lyrics: “You can charge for hailstorms/You can charge for rain/For the life we’re given/Nobody has to pay.” ‘Bliss’ is a show-stopper in which romantic love meets spirituality. “If bliss was a place it would be in your arms/The light on our faces from the fire/The blistering heat of a lovers embrace can bring tears to the eyes/Leave you devastated." McGee’s voice achieves a transcendental quality; like that of jazz great, Morgana King. ‘Stonefruit’ has a dynamic bass line which recalls Peggy Lee’s popular ‘Fever’ and is soulfully satisfying, while ‘Dust Devils’ is an extraordinarily sultry and well-crafted jazz tune with clever, memorable lyrics: “I’ve got you under my nails/Everything I do seems to fail/I’ve got you inside my shoes/As thick as blue suede.” Underlying those images is a stirring bolero rhythm. Mc Gee has a lovely voice and the intelligence to know exactly how to use it. Her instrumentalists are all top notch as well. I’m not sure what type of recording will follow, but 'No. 5' has all the makings of a masterpiece.

Track Listing:-
1 Omaha
2 Alibi Blues
3 Last Orders
4 Sandman
5 Bliss
6 The Last to Understand
7 Stonefruit
8 Dust Devils
9 Faith

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