Yvonne Lyon: Metanoia
Self Released – 26 January 2018
Yvonne Lyon is a former music teacher from Scotland, where she and husband David are still based. Metatonia is her eighth album and is actually a collection of previously unreleased material and reworks of older songs, some remixed by other producers and collaborators, the title coming from the Greek word meaning a new way of seeing. In her sleeve notes, she talks about confronting your own story, dismantling it and gathering the pieces back together to find a way forward.
Taking the reworks first the earliest, Where Echoes End, dates back to her fourth album, 2007’s A Thousand Questions Why, a broken relationship piano ballad here given an electronic coating. Two stem from 2009’s Ashes & Gold, the airy, almost wintery hymnal affirmation of All Is Not Lost, also now with an electronic sheen and an introductory sample of background chatter, and (Davies-Jones on backing) the dreamily reflective Someday, here minus the brass and with backwards tape effects and piano notes towards the end. From 2011’s More Than Mine, extended to just over five minutes, you get the traditionally flavoured snapshot of loss, Farewell, its brief lyric built upon the original’s simple shruti box drone, but now without the Gaelic vocals, replaced by beats and electronic swirls, effective enough but lacking the same spiritual quality. The final revisit comes from 2014 with the wistful folk-pop of Pockets Full of Storms, formerly the B-side to Tell It Like It Is, and, Lyon evoking Suzanne Vega, fairly faithful to the original.
The album opens with the first of the seven ‘new’ numbers, a tribal rhythm driving along the infectiously muscular Where The Poor Find Gold with its Appalachian folk blues stomp, continuing with the skittering beats and synths of the self-explanatory Hope counterpointing her hushed vocals and, backed by tinkling piano, a spoken sample midway.
Sweetest Freedom begins a clutch of three hitherto unavailable tracks, an understated but nevertheless anthemic celebration of independence and the belief in eventual triumph over adversity. It’s followed by a musical change of tack in Everything’s Fine, the title summing up both the sentiments and its breezy folksy pop. That same sense informs the broodier She Survived The Winter, etched out on minimal resonant distorted piano notes, a static crackle and slightly treated vocals before the drums introduce a gradually swelling melody.
It comes to a close in the same optimistic frame of mind with the acoustic folksy swaying crowd friendly chorus This Road Is Leading Us On with its lines about “stories and dreams to be told” and, finally, set to fluttering piano and fiddle, Gigha, a song in praise of the titular small remote island off the coast of Kintyre, or as the lyric’s Gaelic phrase has it, “God’s Island”.
As is too often the case, while showered with critical acclaim, her talent isn’t reflected in commercial success beyond her niche market, but, a treat for both existing fans and new audiences alike, this really deserves to make her name and music much wider known.