A Review of the Beck Siàn CD

by Beck Sian

Copyright Beck Siàn/Haunted Forest Productions 2005.
Haunted Forest Productions (HFPCD01)

This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 6/06

Perhaps I was the wrong reviewer for this album from the getgo. Let me explain.

Now, I never read the promo stuff before hearing an album the first time through. It is like reading a film review before seeing the movie: it seldom works because it colours your perception of the movie so.

And that said, after listening to ten minutes of this, I thought “Gosh this artiste has drunk deeply from the well of Miss Kate Bush!”.

And here I need to point out that I was never likely to be a “stagedoor Johnny” as far as our Kate is concerned! I know I am in a minority of one, but I always found her breakthrough hit recording of “Wuthering Heights” the most unmitigated tosh.

(Is there any point then in this Dai Woosnam continuing to write this review, the Reader wonders? Good point, dear Reader. Let's have a time out.

So having identified myself as a paid-up member of the dunces' club, I will go away from my desk and make a cup of tea and come back to my keyboard in 20 minutes to see how many of you are still here.)

[20 minutes later]

Oh gosh, a lot of you have scarpered. Never mind. I always remember the parable of the lost sheep, and so if there is just ONE of you out there in Web-a Web-a Land who is reading this, then that is good enough for me. (Oh gosh, I have had the sudden realisation that it is perhaps ME who is the “lost sheep” here!)

Okay, preamble over. Let's cut to the chase.

I tried to overcome my hackles rising at the “Siàn” without the circumflex but WITH a bizarre grave accent over the “a”. Well, I am Welsh, don't you know!

I tried to give the album a fair wind, honest. And by the second listening I had read the promo material and discovered she is a cousin of Kate Bush, so I could now forgive her the clear influence. And talking of the promo material, some of it shows her name with an acute accent instead of the grave!! Yet in the liner notes she asks that it be pronounced the Welsh way (well her mammy was Welsh after all!). But nowhere do I see it correctly spelt as “Siân”. It all seems a bit confused.

And that confused state is the perfect metaphor for the album. It starts out as a sort of spaced-out Kate Bush, Beck's own songs to the fore.

Didgeridoo, her guitar (and a synthesiser seems never too far away) and her floating soprano voice making me think of years gone by when I would reach for a spliff at this point!

It is real New Age stuff. I can imagine us all going down to the “stones” at Stonehenge on the Summer Solstice Day with our dogs on their piece of rope, and this CD on the stereo of our battered Ford Transit van. (And hey, that is NOT a putdown. Trust me, I just see her as Alternative Culture to the core.)

But wait! What do you know! Track 6 sees her singing a Folk Standard, words by King Henry Vlll, no less. “Greensleeves”. And a very decent fist she makes of it.

But then she goes back into her own songs, songs that underwhelm me. Songs that I cannot imagine anyone covering in 5 years from now. And that probably includes her too.

True she does try to steady the boat a bit by her version of the folk classic “The Blacksmith”. It is a brave take on the song: the very antithesis of Shirley Collins's sweetly sung, definitive version made way back when the current Pope was (as near as dammit) an altar boy. A much more strident and embittered view. And even though it does not come off, I salute her for her bravery.

I also salute her for her liner notes (largely lyrics). Handsomely presented and wonderfully legible.

And talking of “handsome”, judging by the pictures, she is as photogenic as they come. I expect that her looks will help her make a good career in the Music Business. That and choosing to sing more songs like “Greensleeves” and “The Blacksmith”.

But on the last point, I don't think she will take a blind bit of notice of me.

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England.

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