Now living in Wales, working as an organic gardener, educational environmental artist and wildlife conservationist (the album tour plays a series of Wildlife Centres), Kate Doubleday’s third album ‘Flutter’ is ripe with songs about loving, longing and belonging, couched in images of the landscape and nature. Fruit richly blossoms on the opening track, Orchard, a song about love and memory with metaphorical references to gooseberries, rhubarb, elderflower, damsons and more while the gently rippling, folksy rebirth-themed Spring talks of the sap rising, wild garlic and viburnum flowers. Likewise, the trad flavoured Tether Her, which uses a sailing metaphor to talk of letting someone go (the narrative would seem to be about a woman setting sail with her child, leaving her forlorn man alone, to “journey these seas and skies alone”, though it could as easily be about death), opens with a line about feeling sisal in your hand. But if that’s about travelling away, the violin coloured Lighthouse (which sound almost like it could be a show tune) is all about not getting lost and the fear of being alone.
Her reedy, pure-voice reminiscent of the young Sallyangie-era Sally Oldfield, it is, as you might imagine, as rural in sound and feel as it is in its lyrics (In A Land, from whence the title comes, is a love song that speaks of cattle grazing and egrets feeding), an ambience crafted through instrumentation that includes liberal use of cello, violin and viola courtesy of string quartet The Froe (Ruth Angell, Charlie Heys, Helen Lancaster, Emma Capp) as well as cellist Marie Smith, Jamie Smith on accordion and Trevor Lines providing double bass and ukulele. It’s all beautifully and delicately woven through numbers like Same Colour (an autobiographically-based call for interracial tolerance about a mother and her daughter with different skin colours), Fifty Years (the story of man who stayed in his village while his friends all moved away) and the bittersweet Tilly’s Song about the daughter of rustic artisans whose love of dancing swept her spirit into the skies to continue sailing and swooping after her death.
However, featuring Dan Wilkins on kora, Lion’s Lullaby also serves as a reminder of her time in Africa as she sings of the rustling grassland and ochre plains in a song about the outcasts and persecuted dreaming of “a land where all are one.” In lesser hands (and voice) there is a danger that such content matter and music could come across as fey or twee, but Doubleday is as rooted in the earth as she is in the spiritual and the result is an album to make your heart and soul flutter.
Review by: Mike Davies
Released 8th June via Copper Records
Order Direct from Artist
Flutter UK Tour
Friday 12 June 7pm: Shropshire Wildlife Trust , Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury
Saturday 13 June 7pm: RSPB Minsmere, Sheepwash Lane, Saxmundham, Suffolk
Sunday 14th June 7pm: RSPB Rainham Marshes, Purfleet Environmental and Educational Centre, New Tank Hill Road, Purfleet, Essex
Friday 26th June 7pm: RSPB Conwy, North Wales Expressway, Conwy LL31 9XZ
Saturday 27th June 7pm: The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, Welsh Wildlife Centre, Cilgerran, Pembs
Sunday 28th June 6pm: Ddyfi Osprey Centre, Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust, Machynlleth, Powys
Photo Credit: Eva Bartussek