Stephanie Kirkham: Tiny Spark

review kirkham x1 cong

We’re highly impressed with this album, though its slickness might put people off: it makes Mumford and Sons sound like a grim underground black metal band. In a nutshell, she’s written the soundtrack to a rom-com (not starring Jennifer Aniston — it would be really good) with songs that are often jauntier than the Andrex puppy on speed. A couple are of the ilk that always surprise you when you buy an album soundtrack (Calypso Breakdown on Saturday Night Fever, we’re looking at you).

We think we read somewhere that the songs are meant to be holiday postcards; if she’s not written a soundtrack, she wants to do a Moby and get every song licensed in adverts — Easy As 123 has already been used in a Peugeot television ad in the UK, as well as EDF Energy in France and a Miracle Gro commercial in the States.

Opener Best Time Ever lives up to its promise and is a catchy little tune that reminds us of something else, in a Noah And The Whale Five Years kind of way. Happy Ever After is gentler and sugary. Easy As 123 is meatier and catchy enough for three companies to want to use it in an advert. Feeling Good has a repetitive “I’m feeling good inside” lyric and a puppyish desire to be liked. This song has a flute that channels Canned Heat’s Going Up The Country Again while the next track — We Got It Covered — lifts the percussive intro to Mungo Jerry’s In The Summertime almost verbatim, with added trombone. We assume these homages to past feel-good summery hits are deliberate.

There follows a run of more mundane tunes, all of which feature the ukele, and Kiss Me Quick is so relentlessly twee we’re surprised it doesn’t mention sugar plum fairies.

Dreamboat Song is a proper (and decent) acoustic/folk pop song, as is Beautiful Day, which takes us back to Best Time Ever levels of cheeriness. Blue skies all day, and all that.

If I Could (ie “bottle it”, it being love or holidays or something) is the pleasant but ultimately bland tune that the rom-com end credits would roll to. Closer Future Come On is Black Rebel Motorcycle Club as visioned by Disney. It’s actually pretty good.

The album — the review copy of which was wrapped up with bows — comes with high quality art photos. “Sunshine in a box” says the Press release and to a large degree it’s right.

We suspect you’re going to hear an awful lot of this album in the next 12 months, even if it is in the ad breaks during your favourite television show.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

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