Shirley Bassey - The Living Tree

Dame Shirley Bassey
The Living Tree

What can you say that’s already been said about Wales’ living legend? Well, not a lot really, suffice to say she is a national treasure, a dame purely on merit who has the sort of voice that is utterly distinctive and is capable of putting the hairs on the back of your neck up within just a few notes – and that’s even before you’ve got anywhere near the stirring, power-packed chorus’s her songs have been so famous for.

But to say Ms Bassey is just about that voice would be missing the fact that she possesses an astute sense of what makes a good song, and, more importantly, of what sort of songwriting compliments her talents. ‘Goldfinger’ and the other host of Bond anthems were her launch pad to megastardom back in the early sixties however, wind the clock back just ten years to her collaboration with the Propellerheads on ‘History Repeating’ and you’ll find a lady who is not in the least bit perturbed by the modern evolution of music. Now don’t get me wrong here, she is certainly not in the same league David Bowie in the sense of reinvention (indeed her act has been much the same for many years) but she is not intimidated by songs that, for other performers of her ilk, would be outside their comfort zone.

‘The Living Tree’ is her latest example and, while it is not quite as ‘leftfield’ as ‘History Repeating’, it is certainly not the sort of music you would expect from your average 70-year-old singer! I mean, come on, would you really expect your Gran to be fronting a track laced with chugging wah guitar, gentle rolling tribal beat and a string section that simply soars like a jet plane in the chorus? In fact, would you catch her singing about a relationship going badly wrong and wanting to ‘kiss your sorry arse goodbye’? I think not.

Needless to say, this is destined to be her 32nd hit single (with 35 hit albums – yes that’s albums – already on the scoreboard) and quite rightly so. It’s stirring stuff from start to finish, combining the sort of instrumentation that will please both young and old but, more importantly, providing a gripping platform for that voice to do what it does best – and that, put simply, is blow you away. Did I say there was no one else quite like her? Well, there isn’t and there never ever will be!

Written by Catherine Feeney and Nikki Lamborn (who together make up the London-based band Never The Bride), the single is released today (23rd April 2007) and, for all you lucky people who jumped through hoops getting Glastonbury tickets, you’re in for a rare and special treat when this icon (and I don’t use the word lightly) takes the stage. Trust me, you really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!

Dame Shirley’s new album, containing reximes by the likes of The Glimmers, Mark de Clive Lowe, Phil Asher (aka Restless Soul), Bruno E and Paul Harris (Dirty Vegas), as well as brand new recordings, is released on Lock Stock and Barrel Records on 14th May 2007.

Watch Shirley Bassey – ‘The Living Tree’.

Written by Habert on

Pete Habert was sub-editor for The Mag and co-ordinated submissions from the swarm of writers that contributed articles from their local music scenes.

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