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Adelphi Has to Fly
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  • Faced with a choice between starting university and focusing full-time on music, the young Lucy Ward took a gamble and chose the latter path, going into the studio with producer and multi-instrumentalist Stu Hanna. The result is a mixed bag of traditional and original songs delivered in an equally mixed variety of styles, and while not all of the experiments are fully successful, taken together they reveal a major talent on the rise. Opening with the heartbreaking 19th century song "The Fairy Boy" (sung like a lullaby, nearly a cappella, with only melancholy drips of piano to accompany her voice), then shifting to a brilliant original song titled "Alice in the Bacon Box," the album lays out its game plan from the outset. Ward shows herself equally capable of delivering rollicking bawdy songs ("Maids When You're Young") and Child ballads ("The Two Sisters"), and of writing originals that reflect equally her youth ("F for Love," the yearning "Julia") and an unusual maturity (the conceptually complex "Adelphi"). Her way with a melody is not yet fully assured: neither "Julia" nor "Death (Rock Me to Sleep)" offers a tune worth whistling. But her nascent capabilities as a songwriter are perhaps best indicated by the album's closing track, "Bricks and Love," for which she appropriates the chorus of "Bheir Mi O," one of the sweetest and saddest of the Gaelic laments, and builds around it the account of a widower she met in a folk club. The song is gorgeous and deeply affecting and in every way wonderful, and will leave you waiting anxiously to hear what Lucy Ward comes up with next. ~ Rick Anderson
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