Miriam Cooke

Miriam Cooke – Freefalling (First Night Records)

Miriam Cooke is a former International fashion model, who trained and worked as an actress and musician before she was awarded a first in her BSc in Archaeology and a distinction in her MSc in Environmental Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. After this she attended Durham University on a PhD scholarship and her day job is a broadcaster for BBC, C4 and Discovery. Could she be any more perfect?

However, when the title track is also the first song on an album it always fills me with trepidation. Worse than lacking imagination, it’s just unbelievably lazy. So, it’s no surprise that opener ‘Freefalling’ is this album’s biggest achievement. Traditional country folk in the vein of Emmylou Harris and Eva Cassidy; you can just hear a gentle banjo in the background, but it’s topical (“foodbanks and bedroom tax, what century are we in?”) and successfully straddles the white line between authenticity and Taylor Swift nihilism.

Freefalling, the album, is no Red, mind. Haunting melodies juxtaposed with lively accompaniment, inoffensive to be just the right side of annoyance, might be going in too hard but with natural world metaphors upon trad lyrical licks, and hired hand instrumentation not lacking in style, Freefalling bears all the hallmarks of a bona fide cut.

In a year that looks to be dominated by the darker-trad of Stick in the Wheel or the more forward thinking Americana-tinged ghost-folk, the likes of ‘Picking The Roses’’ timeless lyrics and progressions, without going down a hipster rabbit hole of gothic realism, should make a donut hole for Miriam’s more MOR leanings to sit in. I mean Terry Wogan, bless his soul, would have been all over this record. Sure it’s cheesy at times (‘Raise Your Hands’ is more upbeat, hand claps, “la,la,las”) but it’s ‘nice’, not cool or original at all but just quite nice; or ‘Apple A Day’, where the doctor is the metaphorical love interest, features lovely cello and layered vocals (a nod to the echoplex revival so beloved of late perhaps) but completely fails to live up to the contemporary pseudo-political bent of the title track.

So we are left with, at times, overly sentimental country folk, ‘Hello My Friend’ is the most Over The Rainbow-like if you want the cheap comparisons this record will attract. The American mis-phrase in ‘Bring Me With You’ grates although can be forgiven for Miriam’s educational background.

And by the time we get to closer ‘The Sea’, we are really egging on a big sweeping gesture as the title teases but what we get is a damp squib of forgettable harp and gentle percussion. It’s oddly uplifting but like the rest of the album often underwhelming.

Freefalling is released on 23rd February through First Night Records.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.