Felicity Urquhart’s last record, My Life, was a very appealing collection of ‘pretty’ (not a pejorative) pop-country songs and some more rocking material. It was a very good record, but in light of her most recent release, Landing Lights, it’s clear that My Life was Felicity doing what was expected of a country music singer-songwriter at that point of her career in Australia (or the US) – because, while there was a lot to like on MyLife, Landing Lights is a superior album.
Landing Lights is a satisfyingly eclectic gathering of songs that Urquhart has co-written with one usual suspect (Randy Scruggs) and some new co-conspirators. Karl Broadie’s fingerprints are all over ‘So Go On’ – an up-tempo toe tapper that has me smiling every time I hear it – while Kim Richey brings her melancholy bent (and some vocals) to ‘All Good Fun’. The unexpected collaborators include Nick Barker and Michael Spiby; the tunes co-written with Barker, ‘Two Wheels’ and ‘Bed & Breakfast’, are undoubtedly the ‘tougher’ songs on the album. Urquhart’s two co-writes with Robert Lee Castleman, ‘Little Cricket’ and ‘Time for a Change’, are complex, delicate and dark songs. The title track is a masterpiece of wistfulness and yearning.
There are only two ‘radio songs’ – ‘Girl in the Mall’, written with Mark Seymour, and ‘Ernie’s Daughter’- but I only call them that because they fallen some melodic and lyric conventions that will appeal to the traditional country music listenership.
Through all the different styles of songs – the tales of life, love and loss – soars Urquhart’s beautiful voice. When I first saw her play live I couldn’t get over how amazing that voice is, and couldn’t understand why more people didn’t know about it.
Landing Lights is more than the sum of its very fine parts. While I find myself listening more to the sweet-melodied songs – coincidentally, the even-numbered tracks – there’s not a single song on this CD I don’t like. The album is the mark of a confident, talented performer and songwriter who should find a big, big audience.