Katie Whitehouse’s debut album is graced with not one, but two rainbows, writes Andy Hill. The first, rendered in a wistful sprinkle of piano notes on opener Spaces, comes with the delightful entreaty to ‘follow the colours of your rainbow’.
The second, on Earthman, alchemises grief into something altogether more lovely – ‘when I think of you and cry / tears turn to rainbows’.
For most of her life – a colourful arc in its own right – Whitehouse wrote poetry. She decided only latterly, in her 50s, to make a record. Her knack for a lilting tune makes you wonder why she waited.
When The Wind Blows is an especially sublime cut, with its nightingale-sweet melody and spacious chords, energised with a tastefully hooky infusion of pedal steel from collaborator Gustaf Ljunggren. Utterly lush.
Seventeen, track two, is pacy and impish – uplifting encouragement for blossoming young ‘uns from the vantage point of maturity. It has a real spring in its step – a sprightly, irresistible tang of Americana.
Tender moments abound. Let Her Go is a ghostly lullaby, gentle sotto-voice and diminished pads. Keep Her Safe has a gallic flavour – Katie’s voice feels wreathed in smoke somehow, feminine, troubled, dissolving into a haunting, squally Rhodes coda.
Title track, Drawing Lines, returns to this refrain of uncertainty – ‘it’s a long, long way to go’ – love and life are perfidious, and the further we travel, alas, the less we know.
My favourite track is Man Of Few Words. Here Katie, the poet, ruminates on a taciturn ex-lover, ‘a life punctuated by guesswork and time’, scrabbling among meagre crumbs of meaning. A lonesome ‘…sentence unpunctuated and alone’.
‘Silence may be golden / I’d prefer a silver tongue / sweet nothings instead of nothings / to fill the black hole.’
As with any worthwhile reflection on life from the vantage point of age, this album has its fair share of moody storm clouds – the odd brisk shower. But also dazzling rays of sunshine. Perfect conditions for rainbows.