By Kelli Ali
Third solo album for Kelli Ali, who must get sooo tired of only being known as the former singer for Sneaker Pimps (you know, 'Six Underground', you've probably got it somewhere), it must be a mixed blessing that since being asked to leave over 10 years ago neither party has been best known for their chart bothering.
Having had the first 2 solo efforts pass me by quite comfortably the non electric nature of Rocking Horse came as a surprise. If you can remember Kelli's languid, lazy vocal you can imagine it being well suited to what can only be described as an out and out folk record.
Not my favourite genre of all time, so it's taken a few listens to give it a fair crack of the whip (it naturally gravitated to the upstairs bedroom player, not exactly one to put on as you're going out). It's a slow, contemplative collection that's almost too delicate on first listen, the vocals are gossamer thin and the instrumentation as sparse as it comes, being produced by contemporary classical composer Max Richter, whose delicate touch has served the songs well.
Lyrically, you could probably guess the general flavour, a woman out of time with the modern world, lamenting lost loves, existential angst and the like. There are some reference points to the classic folkies, Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan can certainly be heard in here but so can more contemporary acts like Sufjan Stevens. This throws up a few problems though, nowhere on here is there a song simply as good as the kind that Stevens can throw out with ease, Chicago for instance, although new single 'What To Do' shows Ali can come close, and there's not the variation of pace and instrumentation on Rocking Horse that you get on 'classic' folk albums like Nick Drakes 'Five Leaves Left' although the title track gives a hint of what could have been done as it seems to turn into the Velvets 'Venus in furs' half way though.
A couple of the tracks had me reaching for the skip button, 'The Savages' sounds like something Anne Boleyn would break into song with in 'Tudors - the musical', and just listening to the album again there are some songs I barely recognise although I've played it a dozen times, perhaps having it in the bedroom was a mistake, I'd gone to sleep by the time they came on.