Claire Hamill

Love in the Afternoon

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After 15 years and five fine albums, Claire Hamill finally touched a chord with 1986's Voices, a set that wordlessly sung its way to the top of the British New Age chart. For a follow-up, the singer/songwriter considered another concept album, this time themed around the Battle of Hastings. That idea was eventually left by the wayside, although two numbers written with it in mind -- the mighty "The Crossing" and the sweeping "Liverpool Theme," give a hint of what might have been. Instead, in 1988, Love in the Afternoon emerged. It was a transitional album, as Hamill moved away from new age and back towards her roots. A lovely pastoral atmosphere resides over the opening number "Glastonbury," an aura that seeps across much of the set, especially on the haunting "Trees," the aforementioned "Liverpool," the dreamy "Japanese Lullaby," and the lovely, lilting "Beauty of England." But Hamill wasn't entirely lost in her homeland's past, on the title track she returns to her own personal history to resurrect a song co-written with old flame Robert Fripp. Delicately dappled with a Euro-flavor, the song effortlessly conjures up the giddiness of a summer romance. "Calling to You," in contrast, is awash in sensuality, accentuated by the ache of its moody melody, the heat of the guitar licks, and the warmth of its string-flecked synths. Desire of a very different kind drives "Horses," which runs wild and

free over an exhilarating dance fired accompaniment. "Calling" should have easily swept up the U.K. pop chart, while "Horses" should have galloped across the clubs, unfortunately, neither was released on 45. Instead, the non-album track, "Someday We'll All Be Together" was belatedly selected for singledom the following year. It's a glorious song, as was the hymn "Jerusalem," but did nothing to further Hamill's or her album's prospects. Both these latter songs, however, are included on this reissue. Like so many of Hamill's sets, Love was feted to fall by the wayside, an ignominious end to one of her strongest albums to date.

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