I admit it, I have a thing for Natalie Walker's voice. Clear and moody and sultry, it enchants and entices me into the world of her songs. And while Daughter Darling's Sweet Shadows isn't the best showcase for her talents, it certainly does have its moments.
The title of the album is fitting - each song on Sweet Shadows has at least a hint of sweetness, with a darker edge. They hint at temptation and hidden delights in the shadows, or sadness lying just under the surface. While all of the songs are quite good and worth hearing, a few exceptional ones stand out from the crowd.
"Mermaid" transports me into an underwater world with flowing piano, floods of rhythm and cascades of voice. "Sad and Lonely" is a promise and a warning, delivered with a voice of velvet. "Shattered" draws me into a world of pain and heartbreak and memory. "Sweet Shadows" is everything you hope for in a good trip-hop song, rhythmic and heavy with mood. "Dust in the Wind" is the rare case of a cover version that's possibly better than the original, electronic and acoustic landscapes laid under flawless vocals.
To be honest, Natalie Walker's solo albums, With You and Urban Angel, are more polished and more cohesive musically than Sweet Shadows, but this is trip-hop done well. Daughter Darling's music is more accessible than Portishead or Tricky and more mellow than Massive Attack, and earns a place of its own in a difficult genre.
This is dark, honeyed music worth listening to, and listening to again.