"magical"..."scintillating versions"..."indescribably essential"...Alison O'donnell's 7" reviews
Fruits de Mer Records
Music, vinyl, Records
You really can't go wrong with a Nick Drake song can you? Well yes actually, these things are very precious, the bird has flown and you have to have something very very special to really live up to the magic of the original. Same with Nico, two beautifully tragic people, two exquisite music makers, two precious songs that require careful handling, loving care and attention to detail... Second part of this Fruits De Mer series of limited edition coloured vinyl seven inch singles where the label invites a singer, band or such to record two classic covers. Alison O'donnell has a such a rich dark full voice, she sings her choices of Nick Drake's Day Is Done and Nico's dark moody Frozen Warnings in such a beautifully transient way. So full of space and warmth, I must confess I was a little worried about listening to the Nick Drake cover - nothing to worry about here, these versions are wonderful. Really must go and explore what else she has, these versions are magical Single of the Week
When Fruits de Mer asked Mellow Candle's Alison O'Donnell to record a couple of 'classics' from yesteryear, at first there was reticence which soon turned to gleeful acceptance when the tracks were selected. Not just anyone could re-model a Nick Drake song and certainly anything by Nico could prove to be almost impossible. But, Alison O'Donnell's managed to do justice to both Nick Drake's 'Day Is Done' and Nico's 'Frozen Warnings'; a massive feat methinks. O'Donnell's naturally otherworldly delivery allows her to pick up Drakes haunting and sentimental 'Day Is Done' and make it her own; subtle guitar picking and sparsely punctuative bass and drums add a certain Drake-esque tension to the beautiful song as O'Donnell puts her soul deliciously on the line with a fantastic vocal rendering. If Drakes song wasn't haunting enough, the almost inimitable Nico's 'Frozen Warning' is positively dripping with icy darkness as O'Donnell fills the grim but somehow mellow depths of the piece with more superb vocalisation set against the drone of Cale-esque tones and timings. Amazingly, O'Donnell's re-visited creations become personal and heart-felt, her delivery precise yet empathetically steely and cold to drag every last crumb of remorse and grief from deep inside as she becomes at one with the songs. The girl chose well; two classic downbeat songs, neither easy to cover, both concealing possible numerous pitfalls for any would-be plagiarist but both beautifully handled here by Alison O'Donnell with her insightful and compelling look into the murky depths of both Drake's and Nico's chemically adjusted minds. To choose two such difficult songs was perhaps a gamble by Alison O'Donnell - well, the gamble paid off and O'Donnell can hold her head high in the knowledge that she did herself and Drake and Nico proud with her scintillating versions of their songs.
Peter J Brown aka toxic pete (www.toxicpete.co.uk)
...O'Donnell trains her sights on the work of two of the 60's most revered fallen idols - Nick Drake and Nico - as part of Fruit de Mer's ongoing covers series. Pressed on limited quantities of coloured wax of the seven inch variety within which you'll find enclosed a signed insert, with sleeve artwork provided by Aritomo...while prized between the grooves a brace of remarkable re-appraisals, whose intention it seems is to have you all a swoon, lie quietly in wait. There's something criminally complete about each and every part of Nick Drake's work...in the hands of O'Donnell and Lockett (aka Head South by Weaving) a sense of measured mesmerising mystery is coaxed to the fore, the texture applied is one that is more spectral than the original, Drake's mellow pastoral touch is replaced by a caressing ghostly hue woven from the subtle dash of softly shimmering and hauntingly hushed psyche intonations. Flip the disc for the superior 'frozen warnings' - originally recorded at the tale end of the 60's it serves as one of the often overlooked jewels in the Nico canon, O'Donnell captures perfectly the fragile almost chilling monochrome appeal of the original and frames it within a darkly hollowing ethereal soft psyche folk mantra like bewitchment that's both statuesque in deliverance and enchantingly epic in appearance. Indescribably essential.
Mark at Losing Today/ The Sunday Experience
http://www.losingtoday.com/tales.php?id=214 or check out Mark's myspace/the sunday experience blog at http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=58054418
The a side is a cover of Nick Drake's 'Day Is Done' which is a dicey one to cover just cos it's so dear to a lot of folks hearts. I think she gets away with it though as she's got a lovely voice and the music has been played sympathetically. The flipside is a is wierd fuzzy psych folk thing which I oddly prefer. It's kind of dark sounding with a Venus In Furs thing going on in it. Well good!!
Norman Records www.normanrecords.com
It's not easy to perform a Nick Drake song…His unique style of playing and phrasing pretty much make it impossible to do well…A lot of the 'tribute' releases in recent years have fallen flat as the artists struggle to imitate rather than leave their own mark on a song…Perhaps they revere Nick Drake too much, after all he is special! Alison O'Donnell has managed to re-structure 'Day Is Done' though by stripping the orchestration, adding drums and electric guitars, plus backing vocals…The result is a more powerful rendition of the original without losing any of the feel lyrically…It can't have been easy! A well thought out interpretation that does no harm at all to Nick Drake's, or for that matter, Alison O'Donnell's continuing legacy… With 'Frozen Warnings', she takes Nico's stark message and drops the temperature further with an intense and hypnotic performance…Quite harrowing too…Nico would have loved this!
HeyDay Mail Order www.
Stuart Maconie BBC Radio 6 'Freakzone'
The Fruits De Mer section of Bracken records asked several promising artists to interpret some of the classics outside mainstream pop, for their series. "Day is Done" (Nick Drake) and "Frozen Warnings" (Nico) are amongst such well known classics, which Alison remarkably interprets perfectly, with a deep feeling for the songs and with a convincing voice as well as with perfectly suiting arrangements. "Day is Done" is arranged with acoustic and amplified guitar with a bass drum-like bass, and with some electrified violin mixed into the background, and with some vocal overdubs near the end. It almost became like a new classic, and with a stronger voice of hers than ever. Also "Frozen Warnings" is well interpreted, and translates perfectly John Cale's arrangements into wave-oscillating guitar, and it is with a deeper hidden underlying folk rhythm on different acoustic instruments. This is absolutely successful as well. The beautiful front cover was designed by psychfolk artist Aritomo. (I will review his own single soon. A reissue of his first album you can expected soon as well). Psychedelicfolk
Both versions add an extra darkness and starkness to the already tragic originals. if you think alison o'donnell's best work is behind her - think again
Alison O'Donnell was the lead single of folk legends Mellow Candle. And now she is reborn here on Fruits De Mer Volume Two, taking on two cover versions, Nick Drake's "Day Is Done" and Nico's "Frozen Warnings", backed by Head South By Weaving she's come up trumps with two wonderfully stark and haunting renditions
THE AMERICANSUsually quite content to hmmm bop their way to election booths and hang a chad for the bluntest chisel in the box and believe that they've been anal probed by aliens on the way home, but still they attack little oil rich countries and cuddle up to Simon Cowell (they really have got this the wrong way round, eh?) and they haven't even sent us a decent single, though the Bracken Records people, distressingly English, but based in Bad-Bass-Batter-Dunking, Midwest, Alien Botherers, have sent us some chilling Nick Drake covers... ALISON O'DONNELL WITH HEAD SOUTH BY WEAVING: "Day Is Done" (Fruits de Mer)SOUNDS LIKE? A scarier than the original cover of a Nick Drake song. This is all genuine, black, shimmering and positively medieval in its menace. Winter bleak, its imperfections just magnify its effects.IS IT ANY GOOD? It's a floor-clearer and will probably be loved by over-pale girls and troublingly sensitive young men, but **** them. Drake is generally pure class and this is a cover that adds lustre. The flip is a cover of Nico's "Frozen Warnings". Not a surprise, and the fractured oscillations wrapped by sneaky percussion makes it all something that a sinister Syd Barrett would be doing for his dominarix Unpeeled
Fran Ashcroft, Happybeat Studios
********** 'Frozen Warnings' a swirling, disturbing drone of shimmering guitars and atmosphere which sees O'Donnell lend a skilful unhinged tinge to her voice. I think Nico would have approved.