Heather Woodhead – BIRDS (No label, no catalogue number)
Heather’s a Leeds-based singer who made quite an impact when she appeared at Acoustic
Rotherham 2 back in January 09.
She has a pleasing and individual style of presentation, accompanying herself on
guitar on two-thirds of the dozen songs on this, her debut CD; on the remaining four
she takes the brave decision to perform acappella.
Heather’s been performing these songs (and many more) live around Yorkshire’s folk
clubs for a few years now, and has enthralled audiences into silent, rapt attention
with her distinctive, soft-toned (and actually quite beautiful) singing voice and
her considered interpretations of songs to which she clearly responds.
Heather’s careful in her choice of material, for she’s aware that her particular
singing style and timbre (clear, pure, high-register, predominantly head-voice) doesn’t
necessarily suit every kind of song (she does a particularly nice job on Karine Polwart
covers, but there aren’t any on this disc!).
To some listeners, Heather’s delivery may sometimes on first acquaintance appear
a touch detached – removed from, or drained of, the relevant emotion when a more
dramatic approach might be called for, but the good news is that there aren’t any
disasters here, and she “gets away with it” on darker pieces such as The Three Ravens
(an ethereal reading, with a suitably “antique” atmosphere conjured by Tim Knight’s
piano accompaniment) and Cuchullan’s Lament, while The Unquiet Grave is one of three
tracks that benefit further from Alison Battye’s accomplished and cultured flute
The acappella tracks, always a challenge for a singer to record, are better than
respectable, although Heather would be the first to admit she betrays a touch of
nervousness at times; of these, The Bonny Bonny Boy is probably the best, although
her version of Black Is The Colour is refreshingly different from the one we usually
As for the remainder of the menu, Heather entices us almost innocently on Come My
Little Roving Sailor and The Bird Song, but I Know Where I’m Going and Where My Caravan
Has Rested (though idiomatically sung) will probably be too redolent of the parlour-room
for some tastes.
All in all, Heather has produced a modest, attractive, well-thought-out and persuasive