Tiny Spark *****
It’s a decade since Stephanie Kirkham’s last album hit the shelves. That was a dark affair, reflecting the turbulent route her career had taken to that point. Ten years later she is in a happier place and Tiny Spark reflects that in no uncertain terms. In ‘If I Could’ she states that ‘ …baby, I’d bottle it…’ and that is pretty much what she’s done; distilled the essence of a smile and turned it into musical form.
All this resolute cheerfulness could become rather saccharine in lesser hands. However, across the thirteen songs on Tiny Spark the mood stays just the right side of the line that separates quirky from twee. The production remains open and organic while thrown in are all manner of sounds from ukulele to glockenspiel, from toy piano to doo-wop and music-hall vocals. The deftness with which this is done is thanks to co-writer and producer, Phil Thornalley, no stranger to crafting likeable songs that bury themselves into the consciousness.
However, the jewel that shines most brightly in each song is Kirkham’s voice. A beautiful mixture of natural Lancashire pronunciation, innocence and intimacy, there is an honesty and integrity in her singing that checks any cynicism at the door and allows you to join her, in your own happy place.