Elaine Palmer “Half Moon Rising”

Butterfly Effect Records, 2024

English and American roots underlying a blossoming collaboration.

artwork for Elaine Palmer album "Half Moon Rising"For an artist who regularly crosses the Atlantic, it must be satisfying to find your songs featuring in the airline’s music library. Elaine Palmer’s 2017 release ‘Still Life’ was playlisted worldwide by British Airways and her 2021 album ‘The Land In Between’ received similar coverage, courtesy of Qatar Airways. Her latest single, ‘Let Me Fall’ has even been heard over the speakers at her local football club, Middlesbrough FC, a sign that Palmer has strong roots in her native Teesside.

Beyond those outlets, Palmer’s music has found support on UK radio and in the leading music press. Several albums and much touring have helped her to gain a reputation as a songwriter and singer, building up to her latest release, ‘Half Moon Rising’.

Growing up in a village on the North York Moors and with family in Phoenix, Arizona, Elaine Palmer has been a frequent flyer to the southwestern states. These very different settings give her a unique background to draw upon in her songwriting, from English rural life to the wide-open spaces of the American West. For this record, she chose San Diego-based Mike Butler to engineer and produce in the hills outside the Californian city. The result is an album that combines sounds characteristic of the Flying Burrito Brothers with an identifiably English sensibility.

A good example is the atmospheric ‘Freebrough Hill’. Familiar with the stark topography of her childhood, Palmer references the strange dome-shaped landmark near Whitby, the subject of much mythologising. With its shimmering guitars, insistent drum-pattern and urgent vocal, the song brings the best of americana to the English countryside.

There are plenty of other highlights among the eight tracks on this mini-album. Palmer cites Dylan as one of her influences and the opening track ‘Heart and Soul’ has shades of ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, the familiar chords gently rising before the bridge holds the last line with a “How does it feel?” kind of feel.

For this record, Palmer put together a crack team of musicians featuring Butler himself on guitars, Matt Lynott on drums, Bobby Furgo on violin and Dave Berzanski on pedal steel, bringing their experience gained with the likes of The White Buffalo, Leonard Cohen and the Hacienda Brothers. This American influence comes through strongly on ‘A Love Like That’, a tender song made all the more plaintive by Berzanski’s pedal steel.

With several albums behind her, ‘Half Moon Rising’ gives a clear indication of Palmer’s musical pedigree. As one would expect of someone who has taught on song writing courses, the songs are carefully constructed, varied in tone and strong on melody.  Hints of folk linger amongst the country-tinged americana, the songs creating moods that conjure up the austere splendour of the Yorkshire moors alongside the rugged beauty of the American west. No wonder the airlines love her music.

8/10
8/10

About Chas Lacey 19 Articles
My musical journey has taken me from Big Pink to southern California. Life in the fast lane now has a sensible 20mph limit which leaves more time for listening to new music and catching live shows.
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Alan Peatfield

Lovely track. Been a fan of hers for years.