January brings a debut album from Irish singer Noella Hutton, who possesses a voice to tantalize one moment and paralyze the next.
Noella Hutton proves out on the disc player as one of the more impactful first albums in recent memory. For power, passion, and sheer commitment, she rivals and at some times seems to surpass the early efforts of Ireland’s fiery rockers U2 and Sinead O’Connor. At the Guinness Fleadh fest in New York this past summer she performed on the same bill with Van Morrison, Paula Cole, O’Connor and others.
Inventive production by Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads, Live) includes such touches as ‘Surf’-style guitars on “It’s Just Unusual to be Happy,” the psychotropic guitar swirlings of “Attitude,” and some nice keyboard plonking in the backdrops by the producer himself.
Sounds shimmer and swirl, taking us on an electrified trip through these songs, which began as acoustic guitar presentations Noella sang in the British club circuit and ended up evolving into stirring rock tracks in a San Francisco studio mixed by Tom Lord-Alge (Steve Winwood, others).
This disc uses the Pacific Microsonics process HDCD (High Definition Compact Digital) and nuances of the in-studio performance show through.
On “Fear,” a feeling Hutton finds “… crawling up my spine,” she begins in a ballad style and explodes in a frenzied release of inner demons.
Tracks such as “Sweet Adult Child” show Hutton carries a sweetness and humanity about her, which is refreshing. And her voice, demonstrating a frailty here, recalls her days singing gigs in the U.K. supporting Boy George. The Guardian called her a “… miniature Irish Molotov Cocktail with a voice like a million Marianne Faithfulls.”
Hutton turns in heartfelt tunes of the sort that have allowed her — since childhood singing in the church choir — to overcome shyness. She’s not shy anymore. Anything but. Just listen to her wail out, “Fed Up and Hungry,” and you’ll know.