So here it is – something many of us had asked for, for years and years.
A solo album from one of THE greatest soul voices this country or any country have ever produced.
The release of this album was supposed to be a huge celebration, a time when the singer was finally paid her dues, where the music industry finally sat up and gave her the respect that she deserved. A time when she could bask in the love that anyone with half a brain and knew how great she was would give her. She would love it, it was well deserved and a long time coming. In this crazy shit year one of the shining lights of the last 30 years, one of the nicest people I’ve ever come across would sit back an just say yeah I did it.
But this year is more then crazy, its shit, proper shit and she isn’t here anymore.
We all know who I’m talking about – Denise Johnson THE Voice, the Angel of Manchester. Soul Sister Supreme. Man City Substitute on match day, Our Friend, Our D.
So what of the album – what did Denise leave us with – does it do her proud?
It’s easy for me to say that of course it does – we all knew it would – talent like this was never going to muck it up.
But yes its a great album – mostly acoustic which allows the voice to soar. Starting off with the two well known covers of True Faith and I’m Not in Love – two songs synonymous with her beloved Manchester – to cover them takes some balls – but Denise has put her own style to them, not easy to do when they are both so well known but that’s the beauty of her voice – it just takes songs to another level – somewhere more beautiful.
Nothing you can do and Evangeline are up next – my two personal favourites at the moment – the former is much like Babe I’m gonna leave you by Led Zep. Its magnificent. Evangeline is even better then that, it drips such emotion I’m actually struggling to put into words the impact it has on you. Written by Simon Aldred/Cherry Ghost – its just what you’d expect to hear from a song of his. Just play it. A lot.
Sunshine after the rain is written by Ellie Greenwich but I know it more as a song Elkie Brooks covered – another great singer that doesn’t get the respect they deserve – its brilliant and incredibly uplifting.
Well I wonder is probably the best cover of The Smith’s song I’ve heard – I’ve no doubt Johnny and Moz would agree. “Please keep me in mind” D sings – I’m pretty sure we all will, forever.
The album ends with Steal Me Easy – a country lament – akin to her work with the Primals on Give Out but don’t give up album. Its the type of song that takes you to the best work of The Stones not just The Scream – dripping with soul, slide guitar and organ supporting the voice.
And then its over.
But its not over really – it probably should of been a new beginning for Denise, but what she has left us with is a love letter, to her hometown, to her family, her friends and to her fans.
It’s one hell of a sign off.
Thanks Denise – We all love it.