Pour Me a Drink
Pour Me A Drink by Edwina Hayes Edwina Hayes' second album, Pour Me A Drink, finds her eschewing the highly produced sound of her debut release for a delightfully intimate, acoustic offering. The decision to record a stripped-back sound pays dividends on Hayes' exquisite self-penned material, allowing plenty of room for Hayes' gentle guitar picking and unrelentingly beautiful voice. The gentle melancholy of Hayes' mellow folk-pop couldn't sound better. Songs like Run and I Won't Say Your Name positively ache with the weight of longing and sorrow, though Hayes' sublime vocals ensure that it's a bittersweet affair throughout, with the unerring comfort of her sweet tones. The title track is a delicious bluesy saunter that wears it's world-weary heart well and truly on it's sleeve, with a refrain that almost sighs with resignation: Pour me a drink / light me a cigarette / help me forget / the things that I've done. In a nice touch, the last pages of the CD booklet are scattered with the names of an assortment of Hayes' favourite artists, ranging from the likes of Van Morrison and Nanci Griffith to those who are still paying their dues in folk clubs up and down the country. Hayes also nods towards the influence of others with the inclusion of a couple of covers: Randy Newman's Feels Like Home and a heartbreaking interpretation of Richard Thompson's Waltzing's For Dreamers. A somewhat playful rendition of the traditional song Froggie Went A Courting also appears. For those already familiar with Hayes' winsome writing talents and seductive vocals, Pour Me A Drink provides the opportunity to fall in love all over again; for those discovering Hayes for the first time, it will surely be a case of love at first sight. Mike Wilson www.folking.com * * * Hayes, Edwina - Pour Me A Drink With her beautiful, heartfelt singing, excellent songs and effusive personality, Edwina Hayes was always one of the artists most likely to make it from the London acoustic scene in the early noughties. After playing frequently in London, around the UK and in Nashville, Edwina was eventually signed by Warner Brothers with whom she released her debut album Out On My Own in 2004. Although OOMO contains some excellent songs, the intimacy of the Edwina Hayes live experience was rather lost with the slick arrangements provided by a band of well-known session musicians. Much truer to Edwina's live solo sound is her new second LP Pour Me A Drink which features just her guitar and vocals with the only other musicians present being Jake McKeague on acoustic lead on two songs and Carissa Broadwater on backing vocals on one. Pour Me A Drink is an excellent album with the sparse arrangements bringing Edwina's superb, moving singing and bright finger-picking guitar style to the fore. Also impressive are the strong melodies and structures to the songs, many featuring bridges in a style somewhere between folk and quality country music. Edwina's main lyrical theme is love, often of the unrequited kind. Among the best songs of the heart on Pour Me A Drink are Season Of Love, Run and Leave A Light On For You. Moving on to other subject matter, the title track is another instantly memorable highpoint with it's tale of a life of regrets. All of the songs on PMAD are written or co-written by Edwina apart from covers of tunes by Richard Thompson (Waltzing's For Dreamers) and Randy Newman (Feels Like Home) as well as the traditional Froggie Went A Courting. These covers fit seamlessly on this stark yet warm LP on which Edwina's beautiful voice will undoubtedly get the most accolades though her guitar playing and considerable compositional craft should not be overlooked. Without the weight (in both senses of the word) of a major record company behind her, Edwina Hayes has produced a superior album, which is closer to her true live sound than her debut LP. Pour Me A Drink is recommended to anyone who likes quality singer-songwriters though if you get the chance, try to also see Edwina live where her warm-hearted and often humorous banter adds a further dimension to an already excellent performance. Greg Rose www.fieldfareguru.com * * * Edwina Hayes - Pour Me A Drink There are many un-mined treasures studding the UK's live circuit and surely Yorkshire-based vocalist, Edwina Hayes, shines brightly among them. Possessed of a softly crystalline voice and a gentle country-folk sensibility, she's built up an enviable reputation both as a solo and one third of Hummingbird. Her 2004 debut album, Out On My Own, produced by Clive Gregson, was a slickly polished affair and displayed a musical debt to hero-cum-mentor, Nanci Griffith. Four years on, Pour Me A Drink takes a more home spun approach, reflecting her live performance with a stripped -down vocal and acoustic guitar sound. So often the 'one-girl-and-an-acoustic guitar' formula descends rapidly in to strum-strum-strum monotony; not here, though. Such is the quality of Hayes's voice and delivery that the listener is immediately drawn into the song, while her delicate finger picking provides an engaging bed for the vocals. The eleven tracks presented here are mostly self-penned and have been carefully honed on the road, while three covers are thrown in for good measure. Standout tracks include the haunting 'Run' and 'Season Of Love', which typify the sweet melancholy with which Hayes's songs are shot through. The dissolute title track is a live favourite and for good reason. Here it loses none of it's ability to move. Even her version of Richard Thompson's 'Waltzing's For Dreamers' stands head-held-high when compared with the original-high praise indeed. Trevor Raggatt Four stars Rock n Reel * * * Edwina Hayes - Pour Me A Drink A marked departure from her debut album, Edwina's follow-up to Out On My Own sees her presenting a far more intimate collection of songs. For the most part it's just her and her acoustic guitar. Save for appearances from Carissa Broadwater and guitarist Jake McKeague, guest musicians this time around are few and far between, yet Pour Me A Drink triumphs so defiantly because there's quite simply nothing to distract the listener from the breathtaking range of Edwina's voice. The gently finger-picked and strummed melodies are appropriately fragile, lending a rare strain of melancholy to her songs that make them devastatingly moving. Honesty is always the best policy, and Edwina evidently realizes as much. Her lovelorn lyrics cut straight to the bone, with the exquisite Run - co-written with Carissa Broadwater - opening proceedings. The aching and longing that pervades Leave A Light on For You has been captured perfectly, while Edwina's cover of Richard Thompson's Waltzing's For Dreamers proves just how skilled she is at interpreting other people's songs. Indeed, Edwina made the conscious decision to include a couple of covers on Pour Me A Drink in order to make the release better reflect her live shows: she often slips songs, by all manner of Country and Folk singers into her sets. A corking rendition of the traditional Froggie Went A Courting also makes it's presence felt. Season Of Love, Call Me and the title track itself are further examples of emotion-packed songwriting at it's finest. Heartbreakingly introspective yet emotionally uplifting, Edwina crafts songs that never fail to touch a nerve. Having written songs inspired by personal experience from time spent living in the United States and the UK, she allows her voice to breathe life into her lyrics with a maddening passion, knowing when to adjust the pace and mood of her graceful melodies accordingly. Pretty Lady is something of a surprise, subtly edging into Acoustic-Pop territory through being so catchy, yet it's the final track, her sublime Irish Waltz, that's the icing on the cake. Given that Edwina's previously lived in Nashville, Americana music has naturally had a huge impact on the type of songs she pens. Fortunately, this results in Edwina's music being a winsomely original blend of genres, anchored as always by her distinctive voice that could have the likes of Alison Krauss and Kate Rusby weeping into their mics were they to hear it. Released on her own label, Twirly Music, Pour Me A Drink is destined to attract new fans aplenty. Steve Rudd www.thisisull.com.