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Helen Arney: Songs for Modern Loving

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

She might not be a high-energy joke machine, but if you’re in the market for tender, whimsical indie-folk songs with quirkily witty lyrics, you can’t go far wrong with Helen Arney.

This beguilingly charming geekette has a bewitching voice and a mesmerising way with both the ukulele and the English language, which she employs to beautiful effect for this series of low-fi ballads about love and heartache. What else, after all, is their to sing about?

Well, you can add maths and biology into the mix for two songs in which this physics graduate wears her intellect on her cardigan sleeve. Let’s Make Love Like Animals is one of her funnier numbers, a sort of sensitive, factually accurate response to the much less subtle ‘we ain’t nothing but mammals…’ hit of a decade ago.

Other lyrically impressive songs take a look at first dates from both sides of the encounter, featuring such droll likes as ‘She has a moment of clarity/she wouldn’t shag him for charity’, while her take on long-term relationships is tellingly entitled Isn’t It Great That We Stayed Together For The Sake Of The Children.

She harnesses the spirit of Ben Folds and the Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon, the twin influences she’s happy to cite, embracing their tender aestethic wholeheartedly. The songs are a delight, and even if they are so light they will fly out of head almost immediately, they will leave a residual feeling of warmth and optimism as you stroll out of the Caves, which persists even if the lyrics themselves are informed by reality rather than unattainable ideals.

There are a lot of shows funnier than this on the Fringe, but few as delightful.

Review date: 16 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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