As the last of the snow melt from the recent cold snap washes down the rivers and out to sea, Daisy Chapman’s Shameless Winter comes along to leave your world white over once more. Written while on tour last, er, well, winter, this is a record that luxuriates in the cold, the lush combination of piano, cello and Chapman’s distinctive voice wrapping round you like a thick woollen scarf.
The powerful opening title track, which recalls a time she received bad news while touring Scandanavia, has an hymnal feel with its Hallelujahs and soaring chorus. ‘Better Me’, about Daisy’s day job as a waitress to pay the bills, starts off in a much more aggressive mood, but lofty vocals are a theme on this record and it’s not long before Chapman is reaching for the skies once more.
If her voice does the heavy lifting to start the record, ‘The Gentleman in 13B’ – an imaginary tale of a chap sat in a seat no airplane actually carries (not that they’re superstitious or anything) shows off Daisy’s other primary weapon as notes roll off her piano like a waterfall.
Chapman also finds ways to mix up her basic formula. ‘Jealous Angels’ gives a nod towards jazz in its arrangement, while the instrumentation is all but gone on ‘The Life of Mary May’ – a prequel to Marry Mary from her previous album The Green Eyed which carries nothing more than the slightest percussion. ‘The Hangman’s Waltz’, apparently inspired by the bleak soundtrack to Schindler’s List, is an instrumental, led by the sad sounds of a lone violin.
Amid all of this, you probably wouldn’t expect to find a Smashing Pumpkins cover, but Chapman tackles Billy Corgan’s own personal favourite ‘Disarm’ as her second to last song. Unexpected perhaps, but somehow perfectly fitting before ‘The Girl In Hannover’ – which stands alongside the title track as one of the real standouts in this collection – a fine bookend to a fine album.