Sunday, June 22, 2008

I'm listening to - "Bump", Amy Wadge, 2008

I'm going to try - starting now - to use Auditory Cortex as a place to regularly talk about what's playing in my car stereo.

I should explain that what I hear on my iPod typically would be favorite podcasts (NPR's "All Songs Considered", KUT's "Radio Without Borders" and WGLT's "Jazz Next" are weekly musts) or recordings of the past week's broadcasts of Bob Harris' Thursday night and Saturday-night-into-Sunday-morning programs on BBC Radio 2. But what generally plays in my car, as I commute to/from Oxford, are real old-fashioned CDs. Sometimes it's new stuff, but often it's something I've had on the shelf for awhile.

So one thing I've been listening to recently is "Bump", the latest release by English singer/songwriter Amy Wadge. While she was born in England, she's now more identified with Wales; Amy studied in Wales, married a Welsh actor, and is now based in Wales.

I first got to know Amy's music when Bob Harris played her song "Scream" on one of his programs several years ago. I was hooked upon first hearing her husky singing voice and listening to her intriguing way with a song. I didn't even realize, at that time, that she was a songwriter as well.

The title "Bump" comes from the fact that Amy was about 8 months pregnant with her daughter when the album was recorded. (For any readers not in the UK, a "bump" refers here to an expectant woman's abdomen. Personally, I don't find that term especially charming...)

The songs are mostly Amy's. I think my favorite is the first cut, "I Wanna Be Loved".

But for me the other standout is Amy's cover of "Don't Leave Me This Way". It's a fantastic new interpretation of the old disco standard. I'm always intrigued when artists come up with unique ways to redo an old song, and this one is one of the tops on my list of favorite covers. I think I read somewhere that she put this song on "Bump" because of her fans - because she often performs this in concert, and apparently it's very well-received. If that story is true, I'm delighted that you listened to your fans, Amy!

Even "Who Will You Be", which could have been the standard mushy "What will my little baby be when he/she grows up?" song has the perfect balance between emotion and listenability.

Is Amy Wadge folk? Country? Alt-country? Light rock? She is - and can be - all those things. But most of all, she has a terrific voice and a way of drawing people into her songs. At least I always get pulled in.



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