Two years on from the release of Florilegium, the Winchester-born singer Louise Jordan returns with her third self-produced Latin titled album ‘Veritas’ that showcases her clear, pure soprano and accomplished guitar and (as showcased on the instrumental Counting the Days) piano playing. Accompanied this time by Matt Tarling on violin and viola, Jon Thorne on double bass, percussionist Robin Tynsdale-Biscoe and harp player Kate Salomon to create a fuller sound, it’s a mix of self-penned and the traditional, as well as a Handel arrangement and two poems by A.A. Milne, addressing, as per the title, a general theme of honesty and integrity.
Original composition In The End opens the album, a song about finding the power to make positive changes in our lives, before the first of two versions of the traditional Bushes And Briars, drawn from the Ralph Vaughan Williams traditional folk song collection, its two variations (the first a sparse piano reading, the sprightlier second led by guitar and fiddle) on the story of an overheard maiden reflecting the nature of the oral tradition.
The third of the traditional tunes is Garners Gay, a rare feminist female-empowerment contribution to the folk canon as the young woman in the story resolves to learn from her mistakes.
Although written by Jordan, the fiddle backed Lovey Warne has all the trappings of a traditional ballad and, based on her research, tells the true story of a woman from the New Forest (where many places bear the family name) who defied the traditional roles of her gender to become a female smuggler. Of the other Jordan compositions, I’m particularly fond of Those Words, a ripplingly gentle, finger-picked personal reflection on how we often avoid confronting the things we need to talk about, and If It Lasts, which addresses the need to be honest with ourselves and accept the truth.
An arrangement of an aria from Handel’s 1743 opera, Semele, Where’er You Walk becomes a quite lovely pastoral folk song about how love can blind us to the truth of faults and imperfections while, turning her attention to literary works, What Is The Matter? and Nobody Knows are both her musical settings of words by A.A. Milne, the former a disturbing tale of a girl who refuses to eat and which, given a frayed-nerve piano arrangement, suggests hints of Kate Bush to go with the frequent comparisons to Shirley Collins and Anne Briggs, while, set to harp, piano and viola, the latter is a more soothingly contemplative meditation on the mysteries of life.
The album ends with the reflective, strings-adorned As She Goes, a simple request to share the unknown paths that lie ahead with someone who will accept her for who she is, ‘proud and foolish.. and addicted to my pain’, and return the love she seeks. Having listened throughout, it’s hard not to want to extend your hand.
Review by: Mike Davies
Veritas is out now.
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