Album review: Essie Thomas | Hearts on the Table

The album cover depicts the music from Essie Thomas’ second studio album – big hearted songs with a twist of styles from blues, folk and jazz and a sprinkle of orchestral production magic.  Essie crowd-funded the making of this album and every dollar has been well spent when you hear the composed instrumentals, recorded and mixed by local maestro Scott French.

The first track Hold On is a fuss-free folky poetic number with a hint of Missy Higgins, yearning for time to stay still with some impressive drumming rhythms by Anastasia Scales.  This introduction does not lull us into a false sense of folk security as we are surprised to hear Essie’s smooth groove Sade-like sounds on second track, Caught (Hearts on the table).  Made Out of the Wind is led by an acoustic guitar that drives the song into a foot tapping, shoulder swaying number; “like a melody so fine, so sweet.”

Earnest guitar picking, percussive instruments and a muffled drum beat are used to add drama to the life affirming Don’t Look Down while Light at the end of the tunnel provides a clever electronica, flute layer vibe with high register plinking piano runs, to build a story without words. It’s the little bowl of sugar on Essie’s Hearts on The Table album. Not What We Asked For offers a slight reggae inspired interlude, while Big Man would be a gift for an artist like John Butler to sing – it screams JBT all over, rollicking drums, fiery guitar rhythms and rousing lyrics.

This is a tightly packaged album with every song going somewhere different, from a songwriter who doesn’t mess with her words. And for every listen you discover beautiful little musical nuances enticing you to hit play again.

Hearts on the Table is available on iTunes.   The Essie Thomas Ensemble plays Woodford Folk Festival in December and Earth Frequency Festival from 17 February 2017.


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