As a former student of social anthropology and folklore, this Exeter based singer songwriter knows very well that the best fables and fairy tales contain darker undercurrents.
The album opens with Brambles, a Snow White inspired song in which a smart but hyper sensitive young woman builds a wall of thorns around her own heart as a protection against rejection until Mr Right finally shows up to save her.
In Happily Ever After, Amy Hopwood questions the accuracy of the classic story ending which implies couples will live blissfully together forever and ever. She muses that it would be more realistic to speak of relationships where lives are shared “for the good times and bad.”
On her assured third album, she sings a lot about trees, birds and bees but avoids the sickly sentimentalism that often goes with this territory. For the final track (The Seeds Of Love) she even gets away with using a recording of actual birdsong from the Ashclyst Forest, Devon.
Accompanying herself on the tenor guitar, you can hear the influence of other notable female solo artists like Karine Polwart and Emily Portman.
A wicked witch and predatory wolf appear in Three Impossible Tasks and Astrid And The Wolf respectively. The moral to take from both songs comes in a line in the latter to the effect that ”you must always challenge the power.”
Given the recent squalid events in UK politics, there are no prizes for guessing who the “arrogant, greedy leader” taking the part of the liar in The Liar And The Tailor is. On paper, updating Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ folktale for this topic is a good one but, for me, the application is a little too obvious and the subject demands a more venomous slant.
Hopwood is in her element when using more abstract metaphors. This is what makes the delicate beauty of Kintsugi a standout track. The title is the Japanese word for the art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold and in the song this is translated into healing lyrics: life’s what you make it, make it with radiant light.”
Light and radiance are certainly qualities this singer brings to an album of strong songs and consistent themes. To quote from the sweet but sinister Best Served Cold, “It’s the quiet ones you need to watch.”