(23 June 2002) Karen Matheson's second solo album is a twelve-track collection of tunes entitled Time To Fall (Vertical Records (UK) VRTCD 002, 2002). The album is the long-awaited followup to her first solo project The Dreaming Sea released in 1996, a gentle departure from her progressive Celtic work with Capercaillie (reviews) and the artist's first album with her new label. Further information is available at Karen's new website.
It is not surprising that several of Capercaillie's members contribute to the album instrumentally. Familiar personnel include James Grant (guitars), James Mackintosh (drums, percussion) and Donald Shaw (wurlitzer, piano and rhodes). Other artists include Ewan Vernal (double bass), Neil Yates (trumpet) and BT Scottish Ensemble (strings).
Time To Fall is a clearly a female vocals album firmly planted in the singer songwriter category but set clearly above the majority in the genre by Karen Matheson's crystalline voice. The material is primarily sung in English, but there are two numbers in Gaelic. The compact disc is accompanied by a lovely colour booklet with loads of new artist photographs and full lyrics.
The opening ballads set the stage for the richly arranged title track. Instrumentals and vocal layers blend orchestrally to produce a timeless while contemporary Celtic-edged epic.The thickness of the guitar in "My Whispered Reason" transforms the short ballad into a gentle rocker while "Bonnie Jean" and "Goodbye Phoebe" return the listener to the lighter side of Karen Matheson's traditional sound while adding rich arrangements. The sharp contrast of a capella with rich orchestral arrangements makes "An Ataireachd Ard" one of the album's standouts. The bass is just tremendous.
The lightly rocking texture of "Speed Of Love" is supported by a lovely trumpet part and almost spoken vocal segments that give it a somewhat jazzy feel. "Moonchild" continues to develop the jazz texture building the intensity while further exploring the artist's singing and songwriting virtousity. The most Capercaillie-oriented tune on the album is the progressive Celtic ""Moch di Luain." We especially enjoyed the blending of the vocal harmonies with rich guitar, bass and percussion arrangements.
Thick bass and trumpet are again perfectly complimented by percussion in the rhythmic "Hoping For You," another album standout. The album concludes with the tender piano-based ballad "World Stood Still" graced with the full range of Karen's sensitive vocal talent and backing harmonies by Tim O'Brian.
The long-awaited followup to Karen Matheson's debut solo project will clearly resonate with Capercaillie fans and further establish interest in her solo work. Read further reviews, listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com here.Time To Fall must be explored further to fully appreciate and it was easy for us to recommend a trans-Atlantic journey to do so. It is clearly a must listen!