Nancy Elizabeth is a singer/songwriter hailing from the UK. She does much to distinguish herself with her first full length album of quirky, minor key folk-pop. Unlike a lot of her peers, her backing music is as compelling as the vocal components of her songs. Really, the entirety of ?Battle and Victory? benefits from Elizabeth?s solid voice, excellent arrangements, and unique instrumentation. Fans of both unconventional female pop vocals and new folk music will not be disappointed in this disc.
On her album, Nancy Elizabeth plays guitar, twenty-two string Celtic harp, khim, Indian harmonium, Appalachian dulcimer, and bouzouki. Throughout the album, various combinations of these instruments provide a rich, warm backdrop to the vocals. Much of the musical inspiration of Elizabeth?s album seems to come from the folk traditions of her own home country and elsewhere across the globe. Once gathered, she is able to incorporate these far-flung musical and instrumental elements into her music and imbue them all with her unique pop sensibilities.
?Coriander? is an excellent track that demonstrates Nancy Elizabeth?s skills both as a songwriter and an arranger. One of the main elements backing her voice is the accordion-like sound of the Indian harmonium. It bounces along in a style not unlike older French music to be joined at the chorus by a small horn section. In the middle of all of this, with its stretched out singing of the word ?coriander,? exists an extremely catchy song. Another great track is the folk-sounding ?Off With Your Axe.? The song begins with simple acoustic guitar, then dulcimer, but suddenly adds electric guitar and deep, bass synthesizer. The result is a song that, much like Nancy Elizabeth, has one foot planted firmly in both the old and new music world.
?Battle and Victory? is a record that can be appreciated on many levels. Fans of lyrical music will enjoy the vocal aspects of the album while those more focused on the instrumentals will get lost in the variety sounds and styles. As her album proves, Nancy Elizabeth is a talented individual whose music demands further attention.
8/10 -- Matt Blackall (12 September, 2007)