English singer/songwriter Julia Fordham rediscovers pain and passion on her sixth album, Concrete Love. Four years since 1997's East West, Fordham has had plenty of time to experience love's greatest fun and fears, but with time on her hands to perfect something more personal. Concrete Love is probably her most stripped album since 1989's Porcelain, and Fordham's honeyed, dark, four-octave brood is at its best. She and producer Larry Klein (he produced 1994's Falling Forward) collaborate again, crafting her songwriting into something delicate, vast in bold hues of something shimmering and gold. Songs such as "It's Another You Day" and "Butterfly" are carefree with light, springlike jazz tinges. "Foolish Thing" changes tempo; the mood is sultry and Fordham's aching vocals question love's dramatic ways. She sticks with the soulful grooves throughout the entire album -- "It's Another You Day," "Missing Man" -- and breezy acoustics project a seamless composition overall. Concrete Love is an emotional record rich with layered musicianship, a signature of Fordham, but nothing less than what listeners are all feeling. "Alleluia," the breathtaking collaboration with gravelly singer/songwriter Joe Henry, bridges Fordham's most heartwrenching moment. She's confident and Concrete Love is a sure sign of such intrinsic beauty and musical grace.
AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson