Heidi Berry

Miracle

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    8
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Again working with producer Hugh Jones -- and, as always, accompanied by her brother Christopher on various instruments, along with past veteran guests Jon Brookes and Laurence O'Keefe -- Berry creates another beautiful, subtle collection of songs on Miracle. The slow build of "The Mountain" makes for a fine start. Beginning with the quietest of pluckings, the song gradually adds Berry's sweetly cool voice and Anne Wood's scraping, swirling violin to the mix. It retreats just a bit at the end, imbuing Berry's tale of childhood remembrance with a new, fragile appeal. Her blend of folksy, rustic touches and more modern approaches comes very much to the fore on Miracle, though the former element feels the stronger here. "Holy Grail" has a slow, measured percussion beat that almost sounds like something off the Velvet Underground's third album, but it's Anne Wood's stringwork that proves the song's standout. Other numbers where Wood gets to demonstrate her considerable chops are "Queen" (which ends with a fine duet between Berry and her brother on mandolin) and a cover of the Youngbloods' "Darkness, Darkness." Of course, Miracle is still very much Berry's album, and the concluding track, "Northern Country," leaves no doubt of that. While Wood's violin work is equally inspired here, it's Berry's wonderful vocal delivery that truly stands out. If there's a prime moment on the record, it's the marvelous title track. Featuring terrific backup vocals and Jones' great turn on Hammond organ, Berry's inspiring, anthemic song is a surge of hope and power.

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