This debut solo album from Glasgow-based chanteuse Louise Rutkowski has been a long time coming. Rutkowski fronted soul pop band Sunset Gun in the 1980s, was a guest vocalist for 4AD supergroup This Mortal Coil and Ivo Watts-Russell's follow-up project The Hope Blister, and collaborated with composer Craig Armstrong in the 1990s as The Kindness of Strangers.
Irvin Duguid is her foil on this immaculately produced piano-led collection, which foregrounds Rutkowski's cool, classy voice in all its Kate Bush-like huskiness, athleticism and drama. A couple of songs stray into the middle of the road but elsewhere the widescreen melancholy of "The Passing" and vulnerable ballad "Help Me" are elegantly accomplished.
Incredibly beautiful melodies, arrangements and vocals along the lines of Lennox's Diva and Lang's Ingenue.
The powerful, mature voice of Louise Rutkowski soars over lush, unforgettable songs.
There are times when I think I am lost in music. Caught in a trap, even. Then there are times when I think I might be tripping over musical clichés and times when I wonder how anybody gets through life, or a gig at least, without alcohol. So it was that my now vulnerable consciousness encountered the many wonders of Louise Rutkowski.
When she announced that she was going to sing her album “Diary of a Lost Girl” in its entirety and the backing track kicked in, my spirits prepared for the seemingly inevitable orbital decay over the planet Disappointment for Ms. Rutkowski has a real voice, properly trained and truly entrancing, that needs nowhere to hide and she certainly would have no need of a backing track to keep her on that road to musical redemption.
Sure enough, the first couple of songs were perfunctory replays of the recorded version but, as all sportsmen and women know, everybody needs a warm up. Suitably warmed up and properly ready to go for gold, Ms. Rutkowski steadily built up the drama until she was ready to go large on the emotion and take that well deserved place on the winner’s podium.
That’s the thing, you see. The ability to take mere words and float them upon a cloud is the mark of a great singer. Anything else in the presentation is incidental for that talent is rare and, in the interests of clarity and for the avoidance of doubt, is a talent blessed upon Louise Rutkowski.
I don’t know if you can name the stars in the sky but, if you can, I’m sure I’d name one of them Louise Rutkowski.