Lal Waterson

Bed of Roses

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This record takes on a special poignancy, coming as it does after Lal Waterson's untimely death. With this she'd truly come into her own as a writer, in addition to her splendid voice. There's a wonderful complexity to these songs, far removed from simple verse/chorus/verse/chorus, with superbly literate images. Working with her son, Oliver Knight, the stripped-down pieces (occasionally augmented by other musicians) offer insights not only into Waterson's own emotions, but also the state of the world and the past, such as "Bath Time," a mix of mother's feelings and child's imagination. She can take the humdrum things of everyday existence and make them into special moments, sometimes warm, sometimes full of portent. Knight's two instrumentals -- "Train to Bay" and the closing "Lullaby" -- act as more than punctuation, but also statement, the first a journey, the latter an epitaph, coming after the leave taking of "Migrating Bird." It's the loss of a great talent -- not only a superb vocalist with an impeccable sense of timing and phrasing, but one of the most articulate, sophisticated writers to have emerged from the British folk movement.

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