How many musicians vowed to use the sudden, blank silence of lockdown to plan and prepare the album they had long dreamed of making? And how many actually got round to doing it? Well, Jo Harrop certainly did, and the result is impressive and moving. It’s her second album, the first being last year’s Weathering the Storm, an exquisite miniature for her warm, intimate voice and Jamie McCredie’s guitar. This time, Harrop has 21 musicians (not all playing at once), including such notables as Christian McBride, Tony Kofi and Jason Rebello, and, for the first time, most of the songs are originals with her own lyrics.
Their themes do tend towards uncertainty, regret and making the best of things, although there’s also a wonderfully life-affirming number called Red Mary Janes and a Brand New Hat. Anyway, it’s how the words and music come together to tell a story that matters. Here, they combine with a rare mixture of delicacy and boldness, the arrangements understated but always ear-catching. As for musicianship, listen to the voice and double bass duet by Harrop and McBride in All Too Soon. Sheer perfection.