Although I was slightly disappointed to find that The Hollies was a trad flavoured fiddle driven song about her teenage lost love fellow musician rather than a tribute to the enduring Manchester legends, Matheson’s third solo album since the demise of Waking The Witch, is a listening pleasure that serves to underscore her, somewhat undervalued, status as one of contemporary folk’s finest voices and writers.
Opening with the beguiling slow waltz title track Domino Girls, a bittersweet number about a commitment-phobic ladies man that features O’Hooley and Tidow on backing vocals, she rings several stylistic changes, moving between the acoustic cello-blessed, self-conflicted No Contract where she evokes classic Janis Ian (as indeed she also does on Seven Buttons’ sensually slow breathy blues vibe (accordion courtesy O’Hooley) about stolen moments of love and the jazzed folk echoes of Pentangle to the deftly fingerpicked ‘don’t fall for me’ warning that is Not The One.
Backed throughout by Jon Short on double bass, Anna Esslemon on fiddle and either Will Reddy or Richard Ferdinando on drums, it’s as musically accomplished as you would imagine, but it’s her relaxed, assured vocals, catchy melodies and wry lyrics that are its greatest strengths.
Listen to the breezy shuffle of Red For Danger’s playful invitation to a prospective lover not to be put off by her red hair (a true story told to her by an elderly lady in her audience, apparently) and the husky timbre in which she delivers Song For Norman’s thank you for a devoted platonic relationship and then note how smoothly she switches tone with From Your Computer, its sinister account of webcam hacking cyber-stalking embellished by brooding double bass and the spooked witchwood folk atmosphere.
There’s just one non-original number here, the closing jazzy shuffle Chasing Rainbows having been penned by Boo Hewerdine. It’s light and engagingly upbeat, but it’s testament to Matheson’s talents that it’s also the weakest and least interesting song in the collection. Go on, box ’em domies.
Review by: Mike Davies
Released by Proper, March 31