Album Review: Helen McCookerybook – PEA SOUP

Helen McCookerybook, the original First Lady of punk, returns with her new album ‘PEA SOUP’.

Ever the non-conformist, McCookerybook’s music is a delightful blend of the quirky and melancholic, which blend together tunes that sound like the sort of thing that you might find yourself humming, or strumming along to with a guitar, on the beach, on a hot summer’s day.

But, what makes it so interesting is that, despite the feeling of those gloriously lazy golden afternoons that you while away in August, which the album certainly evokes, the lyrics are certainly not a collection of misty-eyed school girl ballads. Not that I would seek to denigrate the effectiveness of a school-age fantasy, but what you do find in these songs are mature and reflective pieces of work written by a gal who has clearly seen a thing or two.

These songs ruminate on the nature of age and beauty, the changing times, death and new birth. In many ways, these are the home-grown truths and gentle reflections of an older, more mature woman as she moves through life surveying all there is to see.

And, despite the occasional bout of laconicism, the songs are nicely and neatly packaged with whimsical bits of wrapping paper (one song, lasting only a second or so, is aptly titled, ‘A song doesn’t have to be long’). The effect is a layered, meaningful and upbeat sequence of songs which, if I am being totally truthful and with all eloquence and metaphor aside, are really very lovely.

As I was writing this review, I could not help but make a comparison between McCookerybook and legend of the 60’s pop scene Petula Clark; McCookerybook’s dulcet tones are somewhat reminiscent of the ‘Downtown’ phase of Clark’s career. Sweet and pleasant, but still possessed of a certain headstrong drive and a singularity of character that belies conventional trends.

This is easy listening, but, it definitely paints a beautifully layered and colourful picture by one of British music’s most intriguing figures. One who, in my humble opinion, deserves greater recognition for her efforts, she is truly an original.


PEA SOUP is released 29th February 

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