SHARON KING and the Reckless Angels

NetRythms

Singer-songwriter Sharon's debut solo album 24 Hours caused quite a stir back in 2000 and was followed by a series of well-received festival and radio performances, but on the recording front things had gone quiet until the sudden appearance of this new offering just a month or two ago. Worth the long wait? Emphatically yes, for this is another set of intriguing self-penned songs on which Sharon shows her moody, alluring vocal work to best advantage. Some songs have been written in collaboration with members of her supporting cast (I'd hesitate to call the Nevernever Cowboys an actual band!), but all of them display Sharon's quirky inventiveness and eclecticism. That last word is the key to the essence of the music, as indeed is the album's title - for "quiddity" is defined in the liner note as "the essence of everything". Life, love, dreams and aspirations, along with their peculiar mood-swings - all are depicted and discussed in simple but effective language, colloquial yet universal. On many songs (Wide Open, Satellites, Forbidden, This Is Your Line and Moonsong  especially), Sharon seems to bring a distinctive quality, midway between Margo Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) and Laurie Anderson maybe, to proceedings - simultaneously cool and deeply involved; even so, she still proves herself capable of drawing on considerable further reserves of vocal strength when required. Sharon's Nevernever Cowboys are in the end just a fairly loose collection of musicians that include Al James (guitar), Jonathon Ritch (bass), Aidan O'Rourke (fiddle), Martin Green (accordion, keyboards), Donald Hay (percussion) and an array of backing vocalists (Inge Thomson, Lindsey Black, Mickey Marr, Heather MacLeod) - arrangements are lucid and entirely supportive, presenting Sharon's songs in the best possible light. You may find that some of Quiddity, just like its predecessor, takes a while to yield up its riches, but its subtle charms are surely worth your patient attention. Quiddity turns out to be a highly tasty offering in fact.