I DON’T WATCH much telly, so it doesn’t mean much to me that Sally Stockwell’s main gig is acting, and that she’s had “regular spots” on shows like Outrageous Fortune and Shortland Street. I guess I should think, “my golly, Sally Stockwell sure is a talented, multi-pronged, able and adept individual – a real 21st century gal!” But nah, she could be the best cross-stitcher or the most award-winning exponent of tiddlywinks, and it would still be pretty meaningless if her album was poos.
Which it’s not, unfortunately.
What I mean by that is that if Weightless was worse than it is, then at least it might be fun to laugh at. As it is, her album, had she been able to carry off the Kate Bush-verging on cabaret ambience, might have been something I could have cherished.
Its lack of trend-value is its most appealing characteristic. There are real musicians plinking and scraping away here. I mean, how anachronistic is that? And not a click track or hint of Pro-tools or computer manipulation. I like that. I kind of like that fact, too, that the backing sounds more like a mini-orchestra than a ‘rock’ group.
Like I said, this is a record filtered through a theatrical mindset, and she likes singing in a high-toned vocal style that inevitably recalls early Kate Bush, as do the faux-chamber orchestrations.
The project has an aura of importance around it, and there are some epics here, but has she really got anything to say? It’s a record where all the moves are made, but no resonance is felt. Perhaps that’s partly the fault of the production, which is clear enough but lacks any real dynamic, sounds quite flat, so when things should really take flight and soar, they just coast.
There’s all the indicators of the kind of transformative ability that’s the hallmark of Kate Bush (sorry to have to use that name a third time), but it just kind of bobs along like a buoy that’s lost its anchor.
I gather that it’s a very personal endeavor for Stockwell, and that she was grieving the death of her brother during its making – the title track apparently refers to her grieving process. Just knowing that fact makes me want to go easy on the album, but I cannot tell a lie. Then again, maybe you’ll agree with Graham Reid, who wrote: “She proves a thoroughly engaging artist with the spirit of a genuine songwriter, an astute eye for telling detail and a lyrical vocabulary deeper than most.” So there you go. GARY STEEL
Music Rating = 3/5
Sound Rating = 3/5