OxFolk reviews: ‘Here We Go 1, 2, 3’

Ben Ray reviews Heidi Talbot's latest release 'Here We Go 1, 2, 3'

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Heidi Talbot

Here we go, 1, 2, 3, hold your hands out to me…” so opens this beautifully formed album ‘Here We Go 1, 2, 3’ by Heidi Talbot, a stunning vocalist whose gentle, sensuous voice really brings these songs to life. With a mixture of traditional and self-penned lyrics, Heidi takes the listener through an incredibly diverse range of styles, from folk to pop to American country, and through a broad range of stories and adventures, all set against the stunning music of John McCusker and friends.

Indeed, the sheer amount of musical accompaniment on these tracks reflects the breadth of this album — including cello, banjo, double bass, whistles and harmonium, the rich fullness of the music is expertly held together by the distinctive, soft vocals of Heidi, carrying the song onwards in perfect balance with the instruments.

The title isn’t just taken from the first song’s lyrics by chance: “it’s about that idea of jumping, whether it’s into new musical territories, new bands, a new studio, new label, new family — new everything, really”, Heidi says. Having written and lyrically shaped eight tracks on the album, it’s clear this is a personal project for Heidi: “it’s about taking a chance… it feels like — okay, get ready to jump!” And, as you listen to the songs on the album, it becomes obvious that Heidi’s journey is not only intensely personal but also universal, and something we can all engage with. Whether it be moving place and encountering new challenges as discussed in ‘Chelsea Piers’ (“When the smoke curls gather me / This city tale bewitches”), or the constancy of friendships in the story of ‘A Song for Rose’ (“Will you remember me / When church bells are ringing”), ‘Here We Go 1, 2, 3’ seems not just an accomplished musical creation but also an emotional journey.

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However, Heidi Talbot’s playful, gorgeous tones lift this sometimes difficult subject matter up out of the everyday, giving it light and air and making it a real joy to listen to. It is, as Heidi herself describes, designed to express “the comforting, restorative powers of music”, with these various stories sending out an overall joyous, optimistic message of hope and rebirth.

Even the title track is inspired from an old gospel song, reflecting the album’s uplifting tone — despite the lyrics discussing death and moving on, Heidi manages to turn the story round into something beautiful and redemptive. This message of love and movement somehow sums up the album, and leaves the voices of Heidi’s songs echoing on long after the final track has ended. Just as Heidi encourages us to step out and enter new stages, I find myself wanting to return again and again to this beautiful album.