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CLAIRE HAMILL The Minor Fall, The Major Lift Esoteric (2008)

Claire Hamill

An undervalued talent, this British singer-songwriter ranks amongst the finest of her generation. For good, ill or indifference, many female '70s performers fall by the wayside: Hamill forged on and it's her singular focus on staying in the game that adds to the listening pleasure of this first-rate, musically eclectic 2CD career overview.

Spanning 1971 to 2003, it journeys from the 16 year-old's big budget folk 'n strings Island debut with Terry Reid, Free and John Martyn to work of increasingly jazzy and Transatlantic leanings, surmounting the rump of punk in collaboration with progressive faves Wishbone Ash, Steve Howe and Jon & Vangelis, to relocate in the synth and tinkle of 'new age'.

Whilst the contexts here for Hamill's work may not be to all tastes, there is no denying the quality of her writing, which shines throughout, aided by her revealing and rancour-free timeline notes. Ultimately, it's the Island titles 'One House Left Standing' and 'October' that you go back to. Young though she was the songs, performances and production soar with confidence and the almost anxious, dark-eyed gaze from her debut's cover has an adult's level challenge in it. That both titles are being reissued by Esoteric is welcome news.


Review by Peter Muir

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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