# 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

Amy Speace - Me and the Ghost of Charlemagne

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 22 / 10 / 2019

Amy Speace - Me and the Ghost of Charlemagne
Label: Proper Music
Format: CD


Enthralling seventh solo album from Amy Speace and her best yet displaying her skill at setting short stories to music.

Given her background (she is a former Shakespearean-trained actor), it’s little surprise that Amy Speace belongs to that elite group of singer-songwriters who can set a complete story into the confines of a three or four minute song. With her latest set of songs (ten originals and Ben Glover’s ‘Kindness’), Speace has reached a career high. This latest collection is her seventh full-length solo album, and while all her previous work has been of a high standard ‘Me and the Ghost of Charlemagne’ finds Speace reaching new levels. Teaming up again with acclaimed producer Neilson Hubbard, the songs are musically sparsely framed but never sound bare. The opening and title track features just Speace’s voice and piano and some perfectly placed strings but it needs no more; her work in the theatre has provided Speace with the ability to pull the listener in with each line as her stories unfold and her vocal performance on this track is simply amazing. While it’s never easy to label the music Speace creates, this latest collection, while not finding Speace taking a totally new direction, does indicate that some changes have happened since we last heard from her. Given the lovely piano ballad that closes the album, ‘Kindness’, with Speace’s vocals at their emotive best, and reading the dedication in the sleeve notes to "my son Huckleberry James, in my belly while I was recording and then new to the world as we were mixing”", the listener gets the feeling that motherhood has maybe inspired Speace to make what must be her best collection of story songs to date. On tour at the time of writing, one can only think that the songs that Speace is going to surely write while missing the new addition to her life while on the road might even top this career high. Having been discovered by Judy Collins, being able to name Mary Gauthier and Beth Nielsen Chapman as friends and having the talents of Hubbard as well as Will Kimbrough and Kris Donegan to hand just proves how highly rated this singer-songwriter is by her contemporaries. While some of the songs on this album might well be autobiographical, Speace’s experience as an actress shines through on other tracks; her ability to see through the eyes of others and express that in her lyrics is a gift that few have. One of the highlights on the album, ‘Ginger Ale and Lorna Doones’ shows this talent, placing the listener “under the fluorescent lights lying in a waiting room”; again those strings adding so much to the atmosphere conjured up by Hubbard. It’s another stripped back performance but made all the more chilling for that. The listener’s heart goes out to the girl making one of the biggest decisions of her life. There’s so much depth and thought in every song, ‘Pretty Girls’ is a haunting, atmospheric ballad that would have less power in a voice which wasn’t as emotive as Speace’s. The same for ‘Both Feet On The Ground’, sentiments that are common to us all but which Speace articulates so well. With such a wealth of musical talent right now, it’s easy to let those who really matter and have something to say slip by, to let their albums sit on the shelf once the initial thrill has dissipated and been replaced by this week’s new pretender, but with ‘Me and the Ghost of Charlemagne’ Amy Speace has made a career high and, as great as her previous work has been, this album stands tall and won’t be collecting dust on any shelf. Also worth checking out is Amy’s blog at https://menopausalmommy.blog It makes for interesting reading.

Track Listing:-
1 Me and the Ghost of Charlemagne
2 Grace of God
3 Ginger Ale and Lorna Doones
4 Pretty Girls
5 Standing Rock Standing Here
6 Both Feet on the Ground
7 Icicle King
8 Back in Abilene
9 Some Dreams Do
10 This and My Heart Beside
11 Kindness

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The Killer in Me (2009)
Strong second album from talented American singer-songwriter Amy Speace, which is being released on Judy Collins' Wildflower label
Songs for Bright Street (2007)

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