Review | Songlines

tender

Top of the World

Rating: ★★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details

Artist/band:

Lady Maisery

Label:

Lady Maisery

January/February/2023

Lady Maisery’s new album is a musical and lyrical exploration of the ambiguities of its one word title, tender. Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans sing, in gorgeous harmony, and play banjo, fiddle and squeezeboxes in a manner far from being soft, but with power and intensity. There is a gentle quality to their work, one that grows from the empathy with which they observe the world, and listen to it. Askew hears a bird whose song she does not recognise. The wild comes between houses and parked cars, and mystery, too. It’s akin to the Edward Thomas poem ‘The Unknown Bird’. In ‘echoes’, James captures the sadness, but also the fleeting happinesses, as someone dearly loved with dementia, slips away. ‘Picking up a thread,’ she writes, ‘losing it again,’ and the snatches of melody, rhythmic breaks and echoes match this musically. It is done with great tenderness. But tender can also mean sore and Lady Maisery, bruised by the experience of being female in a society still misogynist, cry out against it. Their version of Tracy Chapman’s ‘3,000 Miles’, about the abuse of women, is urgent, ending with a great surge of sound. It is – and this is a distinguishing quality of this excellent record — also nuanced: women are ‘disappeared,’ but they also disappear, assert their autonomy and leave.

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