By Beth Jeans Houghton
Beth Jeans Houghton and her Hooves of Destiny have been keeping their nosebags clean since trotting out of the stableyard a couple of years ago but something tells me they'll be hitting the ground running in 2012.
Liliputt is the second single from her debut album Yours Truly Cellophane Nose which will finally be released in January after a long delay caused by illness and time spent travelling in the USA.
Houghton gets indignant these days when journalists lump her music into the folk pigeonhole, an offshoot of her hoofless days as a solo act. Admittedly, it is hard to categorise, although her bass player has done his best to capture their sound by coining the term 'sonic theatre'.
What can be said is that this 21-year-old Newcastle lass may have borrowed from folk as a teenager, but now she's grown up (sort of) and with an increasingly confident band behind her the signs are that the partnership is starting to gather apace and move in all sorts of directions.
Although Liliputt starts with a few top-fret plucks on the strings of her acoustic guitar followed by the same rising angelic lilt we came to expect from the early days of 'Golden', a whimsical but beautiful track released by folk label Static Caravan three years ago, she soon slips out of Vashti Bunyan mode and gets into the swing of this raucous, galloping number. Neatly put together and supplemented by violin, Liliputt finishes where it starts, with Houghton's perfect high-pitched choral voice ringing in our ears.
The song has actually been kicking around for a while and appeared on her debut EP Hot Toast Vol 1 in 2009, but producer Ben Hillier has brought Houghton's rich and resonant voice to the fore in this version, emphasising the harmony even more and strengthening the rhythm section by making it much bouncier.
All in all, it's a great track from a woman who certainly has an ear for a tune, has produced a single just as good as Dodecahedron and if there's any justice in the world it's going to be first past the winning post.
She may sing "these hooves have had their day", but I'll wager there is more to come from these exceptional thoroughbreds. Just don't mention the word folk.