Album Review: Shine Sister Shine


Peter Quinn, Dec 2017/Jan 2018 issue


From the heart-melting, understated delicacy of Gwyneth Herbert’s Not The Kind Of Girl to the rambunctious piano-vocal take on Sarah Jane Morris’s A Horse Named Janis Joplin, Ian Shaw’s second album for the Jazz Village label highlights his unerring ability to recast songs entirely anew.

Celebrating the work of women writers and performers who have influenced his life and career, the appealingly eclectic tracklist ranges from well-loved classics such as I Don’t Know Enough About You - one of the big hits from the Peggy Lee/Dave Barbour songbook - and How Little We Know, first recorded by Frank Sinatra in the mid-1950s, to lesser known gems such as Phoebe Snow’s sublime Touch Your Soul and Judith Owen’s Trip And Tumble, the final unresolved chord of which is left hanging in the air like a question mark.

Elsewhere, the catchy chorus hook of Julie Matthews’ exuberant This Beautiful Life whips up an exhilarating momentum, while the arrangements of both the title-track (co-written with Tanita Tikaram) and Alicia Keys’ Empire State Of Mind (New York) are given additional dramatic heft by the singer’s layered backing vocals.

One of the album’s indisputable standouts, Shaw’s powerful storytelling gift elevates Keep Walking (Song For Sara) into something shatteringly personal. A beautifully sustained piece of work, Shine Sister Shine is Shaw at his absolute best.