Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10
You are warned of the Undercurrents when swimming in fast changing tidal rivers, the riptides that can pull you in, leave you breathless and feeling out of control; it is the very act of nature at its wild and wonderful best that makes it so tempting and alluring. Listening to Amy Duncan could be seen as having the same effect.
On the surface the serenity of her latest album, Undercurrents, sweeps along as if gliding without fear on the ice skating park in the very heart of New York; the ease of the procession, dressed soberly and with warmth, never failing to catch the attention of on-lookers. It is though when the listener delves deep, when they find the space where they should have been all the time, out in the middle and impressing the hell out of all, not for doing anything different, no fancy moves spinning on the ice but for offering the opportunity to go down further than some would dare, the darker feel to the lyrics causing a crack in the ice in which the Undercurrents dwells.
With Amy Duncan very much at the helm and steering the good ship through these mighty and impressive song surges, songs that spread open like a flower tasting the sun on its stem for the first time after a bleak winter, songs that hold such meaning in their lyrics, the crew find themselves going along with the flow, they find a kind of elusive sanctuary in these deep waters, With Fiona MacMillan, Liam Bradley, Sijie Chen, Jane Atkins and Donald Gillan all enhancing in their own way the experience; Ms Duncan has given something quite dramatic to the music world, dramatic and rather beautiful.
Songs such as Fragile From The Storm, the excellent No Harvest, the sincere Complicated Human, The Truth Never Changes and the slow fade of the finale of the album’s title track, all combine absolute deepness with resolute responsibility; Ms. Duncan knows and understands what she has offered and the listener, relaxing on the thin ice, soon realises there is more to this that meets the eye and ears.
An album of layered charm and profound cool, Undercurrents is not be ignored.
Amy Duncan’s Undercurrents will be released on February 6th 2016 on Filly Records.
Ian D. Hall