Album Reviews

Gillian Glover – Red Handed

(Maniac Squat) UK release date: 14 May 2007


For some reason, we expect the offspring of rock legends to follow the same path as their parents if they ever decide to go into the music business. Thus, we have Ziggy Marley trying his luck with reggae, both Lennon children dealing in a similar, slightly psychedelic rock style as their legendary father and Kelly Osborne….well, you get the picture.

This only leads to unfair comparisons and disappointment of course, so it should come as no great surprise to find that Gillian Glover is pretty far removed from the hard rock that her father, Deep Purple bassist Roger, made his name with.

Glover’s debut album falls squarely into that rather overcrowded ‘female singer/songwriter’ field, although her rock genes means that she’s never in danger of becoming the new Dido or Norah Jones. Indeed, she’s pretty difficult to pigeonhole, moving from folk to blues rock to breezy piano-based tunes at the blink of a eye on her debut album Red Handed.

Of course, having a father who’s been in the business for over 30 years means that you’re going to pick up some good contacts, and so Glover is surrounded by an excellent band of session musicians, who can count names like David Bowie, Ian Dury and Donovan amongst their credits. While this gives the album a polished, professional feel, it does mean that it sometimes suffers from sounding too perfect at times – a little raw edge wouldn’t go amiss at times.

Yet Glover’s smokey, expressive voice works well here, and she certainly has a classic touch as a songwriter. The bluesey workout of Holy Communion sees her giving KT Tunstall a run for her money, while the gorgeous string-backed piano ballad of Singing You To Sleep bears favourable comparison with the likes of Fiona Apple.

Glover’s lyrics are pretty standard stuff, usually dealing with relationships, and although she does have a tendency to fall into cliche every so often, she also has an ear for an arresting phrase – such as “my cool veneer conceals a veritable mess” on Forecast For Rain.

The best moments on Red Handed are the simple ones. Perhaps the album’s best track, Go, is a beautifully low-key piano ballad, showing off Glover’s voice to its very best advantage while Hot Knives has a pleasingly raunchy air – it’s easy to see Glover giving somebody like Juliette And The Licks a run for their money on this kind of form.

At other times though, the studied and professional air threatens to become too bland. The otherwise impressive Forecast For Rain is nearly ruined by an over-the-top and unnecessary guitar solo while there are a couple of tracks that fall too easily into that ‘daytime Radio 2’ mood – we have far too many songwriters like that, and Glover seems to be too talented to disappear into that market.

In general though, Red Handed is an impressive album, shot through with a talent and confidence that belies the fact it’s Glover’s debut record. Arguments about well-connected nepotism won’t hold much water here – the songs here are too strong, and Glover’s is a name to watch out for.


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