I have to say that on first listen I found it easier to admire than warm to former RAF pilot Carr’s third album, but there’s no denying its ambition or her well crafted approach to alt folk.
A thematic concept work, it’s inspired by and about stories from 40s Britain, France, Germany and Poland while the music colours its folk foundations with jazz, cabaret and classical.
Following glockenspiel intro Star Song, Sparkle weaves a spectral ethereal nerve-endings web with jazzy guitar, strings and a barely there breathy vocal that amply reinforces the album title as she flirtatiously sings ‘live for me, die for me” like some fairy Kate Bush.
She’s cited troop entertainers such as Gracie Fields as an influence, and indeed the clattering beats, film noir and cabaret flurries of Berliner Ring is a tribute to Marlene Deitrich while Vera Lynn gets the nod on the trad folk and brass waltzing The White Cliffs, though sung by a pilot’s widow contemplating suicide it’s certainly not a case of we’ll meet again.
Elswhere, Violetta is a French sung chanson tango with accordion, the emotionally heady Orchidophile is another trad hued song with classical string quartet arrangement, Kommander’s Car a jazzy, beats scuffing tale of the four Auschwitz escapees that suggests Beth Orton and Portishead were on the listening list while the witchy wood mood of the piano tinkling Army is a dark and intoxicating marriage of Tori Amos, June Tabor and Martin Carthy.
Evoking the McGarrigles, the multi-tracked light kissed piano lullabying Sleepyhead closes the album on a high note and, while repeated plays have enlisted me to its cause, I suspect that it’s real potential might be bets fulfilled as a theatrical production.