This is Fiona Renshaw's debut album as a solo artist, but she has been working in the music business since her teenage years, part of which she spent as musical director of the Cirque du Soleil-like Dogs of Heaven troupe. Stints as a DJ and open-mic habitue followed, and she has done studio work as a singer as well, contributing vocals to Mr. Scruff's first album. Here she presents a program consisting mostly of original songs (a Gil Scott-Heron composition and an old John Martyn number are the only covers). Her songwriting and arranging ability are impressive, but it's her voice that will really stop you in your tracks -- it's dark, throaty, almost androgynously low, and richly expressive; Renshaw has clearly spent some time exploring her vocal possibilities, and she runs her instrument through its paces on such demanding material as the flamenco-inflected "Home Again" and the stunningly beautiful "Waste Away," with its funky verse and gorgeously arranged, string-enriched chorus. Perhaps her vocal approach is just a little bit mannered in one or two places, but this is a tremendously impressive debut effort from a major talent.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson