6. Angie Hart – Grounded Bird

Some facts-y stuff: Angie Hart was the former singer for Australian pop band Frente. They had one massive hit (Accidentally Kelly Street), then burnt out after their second album (Shape, 1996, a personal fave). She then left Australia with her husband, musician Jesse Tobias, and formed a second band, Splendid. They did one album, one of the best I ever heard, called Have You Got A Name For It. Some tracks are in the Buffy TV show but otherwise, her career ended there.

So did her marriage. A couple of rare EPs and things since, Angie, single again, has moved back to Australia and has decided to take her first steps as a solo artist, some 15 years after she was first heard.

At first, I missed the guitars. Without Jesse Tobias or her Frente backing band to rock out behind her, it seemed like something was missing. But this IS a slow record, but it’s also a beautiful one. It has the keyboard-y, trippy sounds that made Beth Orton’s early records so great. It’s maybe a bit rock, and a bit heavier than that. Still, it’s a hushed, Sunday morning album.

And the voice! The record starts with a short blast of harmony. And ends with one of the best tracks of the year, Start My Day, which is built on a sample of Angie singing;

Get back up when I fall off

Then layers on top, verse after verse of beautiful, simple, life affirming stuff. It’s a mantra, mixed in the thoughts of modern life. Bits of feedback drop in and out and all, but it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard, except maybe Spiritualised’s Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space track.

And the songs, usually co-writes, are top notch. Lyrically, Angie is on top her game. The heartbreaking album centrepiece is ‘Kiwi’, the wingless bird, capped off my the fantastic line;

If I don’t set my sights too high
I can fly

Every song ticks every box for a wonderful song. Thoughtful lyrics. Wonderfully sounded. Heavenly singing. Smiley moments. Sad moments. A place to start is the current single ‘Care’. Although it’s pretty straight compared to some of it.

It’s the newest album on this list. I’ve had it just over a month and I’m looking forward to spending more time with it. And I’m so glad to have her back.