Claire Hamill

Touch Paper

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Claire Hamill established herself in the 1970s as a songwriter who walked a line classically influenced, near mystical prog rock and the more polished, formal sound of a Jimmy Webb. After releasing four albums between 1971 and 1975, Hamill packed it in as pub and punk rock became the order of the day in her native Great Britain. She later teamed with British prog blues rock outfit Wishbone Ash for a pair of albums before resuming her solo career. Touch Paper marked her comeback as a singer/songwriter. Issued on Coda in 1984, the set stunned her longtime fans with the embrace of technology and the obvious influence of one Kate Bush on her writing style. Hamill's voice is in its usual glorious form here, and her trademark -- and elegantly refined -- touches as a songwriter are evident on songs such as "Denmark," "First Night in New York," and "Ultra Violet Light," easily matched the glories of her early records, but the strange new age-isms of "Sally Oldfield," and Bush's sense of the dramatic and orchestral arrangement weight down Hamill's other songs. In 2008 Esoteric Recordings in the U.K. brought out a newly remastered version of the album containing three bonus tracks including the 12" mix of "Jump." The sound quality on the Esoteric version is greatly improved from the album's first CD issue.

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