I only just got round to listening to the whole of Bo Bruce’s album and I really enjoyed it. I have been following her since I went along and saw her on ‘X Factor-style show for indie kids’ Orange Unsigned Act– you can read this as ‘I liked her before you did’. She came second to the excellent Tommy Reilly (where’s he now, bless him?) Then of course, I was rooting for her to win The Voice as well. As it turns out, it’s probably a good thing she didn’t. No, definitely a good thing, although it seemed like a real injustice at the time.
The album is probably poppier than I expected, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Bo’s voice is the number one thing you’re listening to, and the songs are really catchy. Wouldn’t it be nice to see this doing well in the charts instead of the usual crap?
I really like opening song Landslide, it could have easily been the first single, too. I like ‘there’s blood on me/ there’s blood on you’ as a lyric. I can well imagine warbling along to this in my car, and having a ‘wooooo’ in your song is never a bad thing. The second song is the single, Save Me. Again, it’s great. I’m glad she’s not come out and done something radically different from her usual style. I suppose it’s not exactly a feminist anthem with the lyrics ‘why would you wake me, when you’re not going to save me?’ but it’s a pop song, so I should stop being such a snob. I like the drum machine kind of sound, the production kind of reminds me of You are the Quarry, and that magical moment when we thought Morrissey was going to be popular again.
The next song Alive continues in a similar vein, this could easily be a single too, it’s all soaring and anthemic. Speed the Fire is really lovely, it’s got xylophones which always makes me think of Bloc Party, and it’s a bit more moody. There’s a man doing back up vocals, I’m just going to look up who it is. I can’t seem to find it, but anyway, he adds a nice tone. This song is the biggest departure from the rest of the album so far.
After a super strong start, the album goes off the boil for three tracks in the middle (a bit like during a Morrissey gig, but make that six tracks). Telescope didn’t do it for me, then Ghost Town definitely felt like an album track, a bit dirgy. I definitely prefer the poppier songs. I’m also not a great fan of On the Wire. I wish these three tracks had been interlaced with some of the others, especially as the first four songs were so strong. These three just didn’t have a strong enough hook for me.
Luckily, Holding the Light gets the album back on track. It’s quite stripped down, and her voice sounds lush on it. It’s just a lovely ballad, really. Lightkeeper is also good; heavy on the drum machine. ‘Miracles and chemicals’ as a lyric sounds almost Suede-esque. This song kind of reminds me of something off The Killers new album. Bo can easily hold her own amongst the indie boys; and being radio friendly is no bad thing.
The Fall is a bit filler-y again, but is followed by The Hands I Hold, which could easily be another single. Echoes kind of sits in the middle for me, but Golden is a bit more pacey. There are more lyrics about flames – has Bo been in a house fire recently?
How we’re made is really sad, it nearly got me blubbing, but I am a notorious soft touch. It’s just moving and pretty and the way she sings, ‘I just miss you’ is heartbreaking. This is the end of the main album and it’s a strong bow out.
There are three bonus tracks, which is quite generous on top of 14 songs on an album; I appreciate that because I hate it when I get an album and it’s got 10 songs on it, I just think it’s tight.
Bonus track Search the Night continues the sombre tone and the guy is back doing backing vocals. I like hearing a guy doing backing vocals for a woman as it kind of inverts the norm.
I like Another Life and there’s another song called Another Life by a band called NO that I also like. You should check that out. Over & Over (Run with the Horses) is good because one, it’s always good to have brackets in a song title, and two, it sounds a bit housey. Probably the only thing that could have made it better was adding a big of 'clip-clop, banging two horseshoes together' sound effects.
On the whole, I think this is a great album, and exactly what I would expect from Bo. I liked 14 out of 17 tracks (including the bonus ones on the Deluxe version) which is really good for me. I’m sure I’ll be hammering these in my car alongside all my usual favourites.
I really hope people buy this album, and I hope Bo has a long and successful career. She deserves it.