Julia Fordham – Now, you may think I am stuck in the Sixties or more likely the Seventies, but I have loved quite a few from the Eighties too. And maybe my very favourite is Julia Fordham. She was a backing singer for a few years but became herself in 1988 with a self-titled album, and incidentally a beautiful cover photo. The album Julia Fordham is a really well produced and mature record for an unknown. Her voice is incredible, she has a massive range, sometimes she is singing sultry and low and then the voice just rises up and up and soars away. The songs are pretty good too, the big single ‘Happy Ever After’ but also ‘The Comfort of Stranger’, ‘Where Does the Time Go’ and ‘Woman of the Eighties’ are all classics. There is a hint of sadness in there to, which of course I love. A great start, and followed by an equally accomplished second album Porcelain the following year. Another batch of fine songs though no big hit single though the album did get to 13 in the charts. More sad songs here than happy ones I think ‘Lock and Key;, ‘Manhattan Skyline’ and ;Your Lovely Face’ sre the best. Towards the end she lost it a bit with a couple of slow unmelodic songs but not bad at all really. Album number 3 Swept came out in 91 and was her best so far. I Thought It Was You’ was a minor hit and ‘Rainbow Heart’ and ‘Talk, Walk, Drive; are pretty good too. Her voice, if at all possible, seems even better, caressing the words and aching with d=feeling. Her next was ‘Falling Forward’ and she just kept getting better – the songs a bit more varied and the production smooth as silk. Best songs – the title song of course, ‘I Can’t Help Myself’ and ‘Different Time, Different Place’ are among her best songs but the whole album is lovely, it just rolls along. East West came out in 1997, her fifth album and again a lovely collection of songs; best are ‘Killing me Softly’, ‘East West’ and ‘More Than I Can Bear’. A greatest hits came out next called The Julia Fordham Collection, mostly old favourites but a handful of re-mixes and two new tracks ‘Kid’ and ‘It Was nothing I Said’ Her best album (so far) Concrete Love (2002) seems to have a magic of it’s own; every song is brilliant and great arrangements too, even a couple of medium paced rolling along songs – which she is not renowned for. A classic album – best songs? Hard to choose – but I particularly love ‘Wake Up With You’ and ‘Missing Man’; lots of moody organ and subtle orchestration. 2 years later and That’s Life came out. She didn’t quite manage to pull it off a second time, though it is still a creditably good record Best songs ‘Sugar’ and ‘Jump’. There is a maturity and added richness to her voice now, and the songs seem more rounded too. 2005 saw an excellent live album That’s Live which leaned towards the last two albums rather than her earlier ones. I really like these versions; they seem a bit more emotional – the album also includes a great version of the old Millie Ripperton song ‘Lovin’ You’ which first appeared as s B side on one of singles. Julia’s range is such that she seems to stretch even the original to lower depths while still hitting those exhilarating high notes. 2008 saw the release of China Blue. This was a departure for Julia, as she turned to a new slow lounge-jazz production. I have only just for this CD so have only played it a couple of times – but so far I quite like it; her voice now not lingering so much on the notes as usual but flitting around, especially on ‘I want to stay home with you’. A nice album I am looking forward to listening more closely. Likewise with her next release Unusual Suspects (2010) this is a collaboration with an American musician Paul Reiser, who wrote the songs and arrangements and played piano on the record. A different feel again to this album, a bit more conventional production, and the shape of the songs is different again. Only listened a couple of time as yet but it sounds promising already, one song – ‘Shadow’ stands out already. So, Ms. Fordham seemed to be experimenting with different aspects, she has a small army of fans who buy her records and watch her live and has eased into a position where she doesn’t need hits anymore. Her next effort Under The Rainbow came out in 2013. This is a re-recording of many of her earlier songs, especially from the first two albums – plus one new song ‘Skipping Under The Rainbow;. This is a piano and voice only record, and I find the songs too slow and repetitive, they add nothing to the vibrant originals. She was obviously in love with the piano at this point – but I have to ask, what exactly was the point. Much better was a covers album – The Language Of Love, jazzyand mostly upbeat interpretations of mostly 80’s tracks. Why, she almost sounds happy. Great to hear her take on songs like Stevie’s ‘Sir Duke’ and Eurythmics ‘The Language Of Love’. A nice return to a more rounded sound. A remix album called Mixed, Shaken and Stirred came out in 2017 – and I love it, Julia with beats, mostly old tracks but a nice feel with her incredible voice high in the dancey mixes. A collaboration with Judie Tzuke and Beverley craven Woman To Woman followed in 2018, and another solo album Magic in 2019. I have just downloaded both (The actual CDs are about £30 each now and hard to get) and haven’t really listened to them yet. But I will continue to follow the beautiful voice of Julia Fordham for a while yet.