Gwyneth Herbert ‘All the Ghosts’ CD (Naim Edge) 3/5

Vocalist Gwyneth Herbert has enjoyed a varied career on a variety of labels including the prestigious Blue Note, but for her latest project is on the cutting edge Naim Edge label. This seems to reflect a crossroads in her musical trajectory and judging by the results there are numerous influences going through her mind, some of which do not necessarily ideally best suit her style. Strictly speaking this is not a jazz album and clearly Herbert does not want to be pigeon-holed into this category. The first single ‘Annie’s yellow bag’ has an indie folk feel with double bass featured. Singer-songwriter territory is in focus on ‘Nataliya’ with minimalist bass and string-plucking accompaniment while ‘Lorelei’ is an acoustic alternative country number. Perhaps most intruiging of all is ‘My mini and me’ where Herbert makes a pretty good stab at US country folk, though the annoying whip-like sound in the background could be dispensed with. 
Cassandra Wilson carved out a niche for herself in the mid-1990s with a series of albums that avoided placing her into the jazz diva category by combining folk-blues, jazz and world roots influences into a cohesive whole that entirely suited her vocal prowess. Herbert is a gifted singer and may wish to reflect upon the choices Wilson made. Indeed Gwyneth Herbert may be best served in finding her own distinctive sound by ditching some of the indie-rock and pop influences on this album and instead focusing on the folk and jazz side. There is more than enough territory within these two genres alone for Gwyneth Herbert to find her own individualistic terrain. It will be interesting to hear how this album concept pans out in a live connext. Gwyneth Herbert will be touring throughout the UK betwen July and October inclusive.

Tim Stenhouse