Liam Rudden: Dancing in the hurricane with the Crimson Queen
WHEN Toyah Willcox sings that she danced in the hurricane, drums driving a hypnotic rhythm in the background, you can just picture the scene.
So opens In The Court of The Crimson Queen, her new studio album, reimagined from an earlier release of the same name with five brand new tracks added, including the opener of Act I, Dance In The Hurricane.
And what an opener it is. Raw, emotional and with an entrancing narrative, this old-school floor filler finds the singer still on the top of her game.
With an irresistible beat and simple but effective hook, Toyah’s message remains as simple and clear as it has always been Be Loud, Be Heard, Be Proud.
Split into two acts - Act I has eight tracks, Act II another seven - In The Court of The Crimson Queen is the result of a collaboration with co-writer and producer Simon Darlow, he also plays all the instruments. The title, a nod to her husband, King Crimson’s Robert Fripp.
Willcox and Darlow first wrote together as far back as 1978 and influences of their previous hits Rebel Run and Don’t Fall In Love hover like ghosts throughout this release.
The second track of Act I, Sensational, is a punchy uplifting bundle of joy that, like Dance In The Hurricane, is sure to become an anthem in its own right, if it hasn’t already.
Reworked for the album the mix boasts tubular bells to die for, lifting production to a new level.
Latex Messiah (Vive La Rebel In You) and Telepathic Lover also get a make-over, the latter attaining a dreamlike delivery.
Evocative and gentle, there’s a change of pace on the next track, Heal Ourselves. It’s always nice when the gentle side of Toyah surfaces.
The guitar led Lesser God and catchy Love Crazy lift the energy once more as we head to the finale of Act I, the epic Legacy, wonderfully cinematic, wrap yourself in the lyrics as you listen.
Act II kicks off with the 21st Century Supersister, followed by Bad Man. The former is a grower, the latter, a nicely melodic ballad.
Angel In You finds Toyah return to a recurring theme, this Angel has a spacey feel, while Hyperventilate wears its country influences on its sleeve as it moseys by.
The raunchiest of the collection, rebelliously called Come, has an appropriate title.
It’s followed by the jaunty Who Let The Beast Out before Our Hearts Still Beat, a swooping, soaring arrangement of a beautifully fragile song threatens to steals the show, an undoubted highlight.
After 42 years in the business, Toyah has delivered an album that is every bit as exciting and innovative as were The Blue Meaning and Anthem back in the day.
I’ve an intuition there are more layers to this release than we might ever know and I absolutely love it. It’s clear Toyah and Darlow share a creative vision sure to ensure the Crimson Queen reigns supreme.
Pre-order In The Court of The Crimson Queen at http://smarturl.it/toyah_crimson_queen