A Review of the Catherine Howe CD
"Princelet Street"

"Princelet Street"
by Catherine Howe

Private - No Label


This review is written by Dai Woosnam, daigress@hotmail.com, 7/06

I am some 3 years Catherine's senior, so I can remember her the first time round. She achieved a modicum of fame here in the Britain of the early 1970s and then disappeared off most people's radar. Why she disappeared is easy enough to explain: despite promotion and tours with Andy Fairweather-Low, Chris de Burgh, David Soul and later with Randy Edelman, the albums and singles didn't sell enough.

So she returned from the big capital city of London, to that fine Yorkshire town of Halifax, where she had a baby daughter (now grown to be a young woman) and launched herself into a life of domesticity, coupled with studying for an extramural university degree.

And now in 2006, she has returned to the big city and come up with an album of her own songs that may well persuade some of us that a major talent has been neglected. Certainly, Charles Donovan, Arts Correspondent for Women & Home (who wrote the liner notes) is one such. He goes on to liken her talent to the Laura Nyros and Carole Kings of this world. He talks of her “naggingly enjoyable melodies and scalpel-sharp lyrics”. [Here I swallow hard.]

Forget the “naggingly enjoyable melodies” for a moment (I am still trying to get my head around that one). Let us zero-in on the “scalpel-sharp lyrics”.

They ain't.

What they these songs are, is a collection of well-crafted lyrics that go some way to chronicling Catherine's family's move from the East End of London to West Yorkshire (and in her case, back again) over 150 years with emigration to America thrown in. And the songs do not just cover the GEOGRAPHICAL distance but the ever-changing EMOTIONAL ground that such a period invariably contains.

The song lyrics contain good use of rhyme and rhythm. I salute her for her effort. But come on please: let us retain terms like “scalpel-sharp lyrics” for Cole Porter or Stephen Sondheim.

But, with those bees now firmly buzzed OUT of my bonnet, I can honestly say that I really enjoyed the album. She has surrounded herself with some tasty musicians, and producer Kevin Healy got it all together at Grace Note Studios in Pinner, UK. Mentioning Kevin Healy, incidentally, I should also add that he is responsible for all the musical arrangements, and they are top-class.

And there inadvertently, I have hit on the word I would use to describe this album. CLASSY.

Catherine is a very pleasant singer, and she has a decent gift for composing melody, even if it's true to say that there is not one melody here that you would really go to the barricades for.

Of the 13 songs, it was the last one, “Yorkshire Hills” that I found the most arresting. A sort of updating and reworking of that great traditional song “The Dalesman's Litany”.

I wish the album well. I have played it a lot these past two weeks, and find it a sublime choice to chill-out to.

Dai Woosnam
Grimsby, England

Track List:(all songs written by Catherine Howe)

  1. Princelet Street ­ - 3.16
  2. You Never Know ­ - 3.58
  3. All I Can Say ­ - 3.57
  4. Shine Like A Star ­ - 3.12
  5. You Are ­ - 3.00
  6. Come Back Soon ­ - 3.03
  7. Someone's Been There Before ­ - 3.31
  8. Say The Word - 3.05
  9. Brothers (1850) ­ - 3.36
  10. One Percent ­ - 3.40
  11. No Matter ­ - 3.44
  12. C'est La Vie ­ - 3.00
  13. Yorkshire Hills ­ - 2.58

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