Album Reviews

Shelly Poole – Hard Time For The Dreamer

(Absolute) UK release date: 19 September 2005


The rise of the female solo artist is expanding. With this influx of successful female artists such as the beautiful Martha Wainwright, KT Tunstall, Laura Veirs and now Shelley Poole dominating the music arena, would it be right to suggest that such artists are finally achieving the recognition they deserve?

This platform for strong female vocalists appears to mark a welcome acknowledgement that female solo artists are more than capable of singing beyond the realms of love, domesticity, and the bitter angst of the likes of Alanis Morrisette.

Shelley Poole’s debut album Hard Time For The Dreamer encapsulates this transition marvellously, especially with the tracks Totally Underwater, Little Wonder and Don’t Look That Way. These tracks – in a similar fashion to the rest of the album – ooze a brutal honesty. Yet, owing to the fact that Poole manages to create powerfully resonant lyrics, yet keep them quiet and understated, she avoids irritating confessionals. Instead, she simply produces some beautiful recordings.

It is well known that Shelley Poole is lyrically and instrumentally talented – after all, she did knock up Gold and Platinum albums in the late 1990s as part of Alisha’s Attic. Although her solo work is a far cry from the black-eyed, wacky-haired, plastic pop of her earlier career it succeeds. It not only shows that Miss Poole has grown and developed as an artist but also that she is aware and prepared to embrace the transitory nature of music without self-sacrifice.

Shelley Poole’s music is difficult to decipher – arguably it is a gentle mix of country-folk and chilled rock but, whatever your definition, there is something unmistakably melodic and touching about it. One wouldn’t be too far off the mark in saying that Poole’s recordings echo the simplistic beauty from songwriters of the ’60s and ’70s.

Shelly Poole is one to watch out for. If her debut album is anything to go by her upcoming collaborations with Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Elizabeth Frazer should be a delicious treat.

It was aptly stated by a Sunday Times journalist that “[Poole’s] music sneaks into your heart when your brain isn’t looking”. So, prepare to be captivated.


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Shelly Poole – Hard Time For The Dreamer