Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Brenda Ray is my new heroine

It's true to say that I know practically diddly about dub, reggae and lovers rock.  I do know one thing, however, and that's that Brenda Ray's music has been heard more than anyone else's round these parts of late.  The groundwork for her "Walatta" cd (recently reissued by EM Records of Japan) was probably laid almost a year ago to the week by Hollie Cook's stunning Glasgow show and impeccable debut album. "Walatta" really should have been reissued by Heavenly Recordings as Brenda's voice puts me in mind of Dot Allison (both solo and with her stupendous group One Dove) or her Heavenly labelmate Sarah Cracknell at their breathy best. Come to think of it, "Another Dream" sounds exactly how I'd imagine a Saint Etienne dub single would sound:

Those spoken word sections are uncannily Sarah Cracknell-esque aren't they?  Quality-wise, "Walatta" is from the top drawer throughout with the tone being set right from the "Sweet Jane" shimmer of the intro to opening track and wafting pop masterpiece "Star Light":

Some dub heavyweights' names appear in the credits (Prince Far I, King Tubby etc.) and many of the sounds a novice like me would associate with dub records are present and correct (the forlorn melodica, the spring reverb and the odd vaguely rum-soaked sounding male singer) but, really, it's the softness of Brenda's voice and her lightness of touch as a producer which makes "Walatta" a record to obsess over.  It's hard not to feel a little more positively about life after a period of immersion in it.  Words like 'dream', 'sweet' and 'love' are recurrent and seep into your soul so that when on "D-I-Z-Z-E-E" she mildly suggests “Come on now and get unhinged, cos I am gonna make you swing” you're more than happy to get a little unhinged and have that second custard cream whilst dancing round the kitchen in the most understated way.  Life's good when Brenda's singing.

Coming soon to Not Unloved: Brenda Ray - D'ya Hear Me! Naffi Years 1979-83

[Glaswegians: Monorail has a bunch of copies of "Walatta" on cd just waiting to take away yr dreich autumn blues!]


  1. It's a wonderful record, isn't it? But, if you haven't already, do also check out D'ya Hear Me!: Naffi Years 1979-83, a collection of looser, collapsing grooves that might just be the best expression of the post-punk era's fascination for the possibilities and pregnancies within dub.

    Also: I love your blog!


  2. Hey Sukhdev,

    Thanks for the comment and the kind words - much appreciated. I actually bought Naffi Years first and I adore it! If life hadn't stimied me so far I would've written about it already :) You're right it's sublime. I was totally unaware of Brenda until Stephen from The Pastels tweeted about her. Yet another reason why I owe The Pastels so much.

    cheers, brogues