With the nights starting to draw in and the clocks soon to go back we all could do with some warmth on the stereo to help us coorie doon for winter (as we say in Scotland). Step forward Scottish singer-songwriter Martha L. Healy and her engaging new album ‘Keep The Flame Alight’, which is the perfect soundtrack to whisky-tinged evenings in front of glowing fires.
Opening song No Place Like Home concerns the homesickness and conflicted feelings Healy had for her homeland when she was out recording this album in Nashville. There’s a grand tradition of Scottish songs in this vein, Caledonia being the obvious reference point. Musically it’s what you might call grown up and mature, the sound inspired by Americana acts such as Gretchen Peters and Emmylou. Another stand out song is Fall in Love Again which really shows the power of Healy’s superb voice.
Title track Keep The Flame Alight uses sparse instrumentation, highlighting the emotional confession contained in the song. Sisters to Strangers is a similarly personal and moving moment on the album. Lyrically what I really like about this album is the message of resilience at the core, also heard on songs like ‘Don’t Give Up’ and ‘We Will Be Okay’. Sometimes you just need to hear a comforting voice to know that you’re not alone.
Woman With No Shame has a nice twang to it and I love the country inspired sound of these songs, aided by some great Nashville players. Perhaps it would have been nice to hear a thicker Scottish accent at times – after all country music is built on using where you’re from to your advantage. So it is nice that the song Unmade Bed starts off with a Celtic inspired sound and this tale of rekindled romance ends up being one of the best songs on here. Mickey tells a typical story of Irish emigration and explores what home means, a recurring theme throughout.
‘Keep The Flame Alight’ is a real tonic for troubled souls, full of songs of strength which showcase a talented singer worth listening to.