"A state of rapture leads the way..."
Audio Ballerina is a journey in music that would appease and appeal lovers of Cole Porter, Dusty Springfield, Kish Muave and Goldfrapp alike. She's a hard one to describe or pin down. Thankfully though this hasn't meant she's too obscure or leftfield for those all important charts as both single and album went top 5 in her native Denmark. At times, she retraces glamour of Shirley Bassey and Eartha Kitt while at others she swaggers out music that is more Olivia Newton-John flipping through Carole Kings back-catalogue. There are also moments where she sounds like Christina Aguilera mixed in with Kylie (see Sometimes for example). In this, her voice is distinct, universal and breath-taking.
This album is interesting. Produced by Kasper Winding and Thomas Blachman, the first four songs (Sometimes, Switch, Encore, Sweet) recalls shimmering glamour of the 1930s drenched in the disco dust of the 1970's. Take Encore (written by Kaspar Winding and Hannah Robinson) for example. It is direct lovechild of Kylie's Slow and Can't Get You Out Of My Head. Lover's of Steve Andersons amazing track Breathe on Me (by Britney) will also love this song. Encore is the kind of song that Kylie's X really desired. It encapsulates Heidi's album: pop with a very classy finish to proceedings. Each song reads like a historical time machine recalling the greats of Burt Bacharach, Aretha, Donna Summer and Shirley Bassey. Encore could easily be the sexiest James Bond song that never was. These songs drop out of the speaker like beautiful pearls sonic beauty. Switch pours out into the atmosphere like a ray of sunshine on a bitterly cold day. Its 3 minutes of one big smile. Indeed it recalls the joy of Monty Pythons Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life even down to the whistle in the back.
The song All Gone twinkles and shimmers like a classic Christmas song of a dark hinterland while Safe And Sound (co-written with the amazing Karen Poole) dramatically produces severe strings of sort that we last heard on Siobhan Donaghy's last offering. Actually, Heidi sounds a lot like Siobhan. The two are like twin sisters in crime. Heidi's voice however is more jazztastic than Siobhan. Indeed, I could imagine Heidi performing at the legendary Ronnie Scots. Forever Yours is a syncopated electro-blue love song that dabbles and bobbles in-between trip hop (see Massive Attack) and Kylie's hybrid sound she constructed with Brothers In Rhythm (namely Love Takes Over Me) back in her Deconstruction days.
For sure, this album is incredibly retro. At moments it refers back to a time of civil rights, smoking on airplanes and the beauty of the hippy power generation. Innovator reflects this historical aspect of the album with its Motown backing vocals, Elton John-esq harmonies and the brilliant use of great instruments such as the electronic organ. One feels this is the type of music that Marcia Brady would have created if only she'd launched a singing career and smoked a bit of pot.
On the song How Can I, Heidi taps into her inner soul diva and absolutely pulls it off. Each song on Audio Ballerina is a dance tour de force of its own. Intricately shaped like a painting, Heidi provides portrait of a the world around her “where the flowers grow" and she "jumps on a dream train to watch her soul”. This album is Sweet and hopefully not the last. Lovers of one of the finest recordings by a female artist, Dusty in Memphis, will fall head over heels with this album. Its quality stuff, wrapped up and ready for your inhalation. Just remember in breathe it all and don't let a bit escape into the ether.......
Sounds like: the future, the past, Shirley Bassey, Christina Aguilera, Kylie Minogue, Dusty, Petula, Little Boots, Cole Porter, Burt Bacharach, Hal David, The Doors, The Carpenters, Miss Mash and Everything But the Girl.