The Singers Tale ' ' Songs from Poems. Outside-in

REVIEWS + 2 tracks.


Carol Grimes started out as a beatnik busker, serenading drinkers outside pubs with renditions of Summertime and The House Of The Rising Sun in 1962. By the close of the decade she’d formed the blues-folk combo The Race and supported Cream and Howlin’ Wolf. Since then she’s worked with Orlando Gough and releases 2004’s Mother, an LP of poignant soulful reworkings of songs by Sandy Denny and Tom Waits. In ’97, she first paired with sound improviser and field recorder Giles Perring in experimental choir The Shout. They formed their duo Something Secret in 2002. This their debut fuses disquieting Gris Gris to Grimes’ intoxicating vocals, equal parts Marsha Hunt, Julie Driscoll and Merry Clayton, turning her song poems – titles Skinside Out, Woman To Child – into seductive, hypnotic and terrifying incantations. It’s a remarkable piece.

Something Secret


If you were to use album releases to measure Carol Grimes’ musical development and progress you would soon lose the plot. Her last album Mother (reviewed in Jazzwise 84) found her interpreting and interpolating notables such as Nick Cave, Sandy Denny, Shane McGowan, Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits. In the meanwhile she has continued singing with The Shout – a choir of standing with experimental vocal values – and made high-profile appearances at the Proms, in Trafalgar Square and on Soul Britannia.

Something Secret is yet another unexpected departure. She and co-author Giles Perring, an affiliate of The Shout since their earliest yell, have created a succession of musical environments or imaginative musical gardens in which hybrid forms flourish and complement each other. Their jointly written Sparrow incorporates rippling piano, cheekily referential lyrics (samples: ‘I’m on my own Desolation Row’ and ‘Are you the ghost with the most/My host for the night?’), the skirl of the pipes and hand drums. Highlights include the intricate opening tack Skinside Out, the slowly unfolding Earth Poem and the low-moan Seven Days (maybe the only bluesy shanty with a jaunty whistling part integrated and ready to re-surface).

Reviewing Something Secret’ from a ‘white label’ all I can say is that the urge to review this here glory utterly overcame thoughts of waiting for the finished product. One of those can’t-wait-to-scream-the-news events.

Something Secret


Cries of Desolation

Carol Grimes and Giles Perring use an extraordinary range of sounds with voice and percussion to create the music of lives stripped of all ease, in a state of desolation – or given the words are by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, in a stateless desolation. There are ululations and the adhan (Muslim call to prayer) songs of love, to a child, to you, to the human race; whispers and sighs, cries and growls like crows and wolves, oriental twanging, perhaps a bagpipe, and cracks and murmurs from the primeval forest–and often Grimes’ lovely voice lifting above the throbbing of the drums.. The whole is deeply sad, a sound portrait created by the most versatile musicians who haven’t flinched from exploring music, or humanity from the `inside out and outside in.’

Something Secret


Harsh and Beautiful

This is a lush, deeply imaginative album. It seems to be structured around opposites. The music is both vigourous and delicate, satisfying and disturbing. Carol Grimes’ voice is just fascinating – strong and vulnerable. Giles Perrin’s music and voice provides a sinewy, elemental counterpoint to her voice. Two musicians confident of their skill and ready to knock your socks off! It leaves me very excited for what comes next.

Leave a Reply