Petula Clark

From Now On

(BMG/Universal)

The title of this new collection from the veteran showbiz star and singer/songwriter may be From Now On, but it may as well be named Still Creating After All These Years. For this set contains a number of new compositions by Clark as well as some interpretations. I use that word because ‘cover’ is not what Petula Clark does, any more than Tony Bennett or Miles Davis ever do or did. To get inside a song and do something fresh with it is a skill a relative few artists evolve to. Hendrix did at a young age with Drifter’s Escape and All Along The WatchTower, of course

What marks Petula Clark out as a creator is the international element to her work and moreover her style. She can make you believe in a dilemma or share a happy notion, much as a fine actor will do. Acting in films and on stage has clearly helps hone her art and subtle delivery. She sings for us, not at us

Sacrifice My Heart has a sinister bassline and sweeping strings and a pronounced European sub-disco ambience. This plus a strong lyric and melody make this a stunning starting track. Certainly one of the best songs I have heard all year.

Blackbird is the plaintive Beatles song, maybe that act’s folkiest moment along with You’ve Got To Throw Your Love Away and I’m a Loser. Her voice brings a real tenderness to the melody, it is a lovely moment. Endgame is a love song and the tune reminds of Randy Newman. I could imagine that he might be an influence on Clark but alas we have not (yet) managed to secure an interview with her. The way she uses her voice, with spot-on key choices too does her much credit. Fever was a vehicle for Peggy Lee’s sultry approach. Petula takes it a chug and the Hammond is a cool touch, the string arrangement gives a heady soft swirl that works a treat.

From Now On is seeking a film to open, the lyric seems very heartfelt and reflective.

While You See A Chance was a composition from Traffic’s Steve Winwood and Will Jennings, who I knew best from Crusaders cuts. She seems lost in the words, a nice place to be on the right song.

A Miracle To Me has solemn tempo and the best vocal on the disc, it seems to encapsulate her emotive touch and avoidance of grandstanding ; Sincerely is another strong composition about a romantic tangle, I like the eerie arrangement which brings across the unsettled thread of the piece. I would have put a long tenor sax playout on this one !

Pour Etre Aimee de Toi is a Clark co-write with Charles Aznavour…aim high, eh?

It’s soft as marshmallow, delivered in French, clear as a bell; Never Let Go again goes for the reflective and mellow and that European cadence that is firmly Clark’s forte. Happiness brings a gentle piano-led to what sounds like a musical show-stopper of a song.

I should mention that our songstress also plays harp and piano on these tracks, adding to the personal vibe of the record. An artistic triumph of an album – produced by John Owen Williams and Pail Visser – but that first cut is the one that really punches home for this listener.

Pete Sargeant



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