I was fortunate enough to review Polly’s previous album “It Wasn’t Me”, so jumped at the chance to listen to her latest offering, “Good Driver”, released in March. It, like its predecessor, confirms Polly to be at the very top of her game and a writer of comedy songs that are going to be very hard to beat.
Polly has identified an under-represented sector in music; the real in-betweener. Approaching the middle years she’s too old to behave like a youngster whilst being not quite old enough to act her age, yet still too young to grow old disgracefully.
This latter topic is explored to brilliant effect on the album’s opening track “I’ve Turned Into My Mother”. It happens to all of us, of course; who has not both been told, and said, “That plate won’t wash itself, you know”? However, it doesn’t help when your parents start to become surrogate teenagers. In this case it’s the mother who’s “not just off the rails, she’s down the bank and through the fence”. This leads to the 3am conversations of “What time do you call this? I hope you didn’t go out wearing that!” It must be disconcerting to find out that your parents are having more fun than you are.
Good comedy doesn’t just have to be belly laughs; there’s the quieter, observational kind as well. In “Choir” Polly has written a beautiful, whimsical song about a choir; the kind many of us will have seen. The humour is gentle and we laugh with, rather than at, the subjects who obviously love what they do and have a dream of one day impressing Gareth Malone enough to get on TV. I can easily imagine it becoming a standard for exactly the people it has been written about and it has been beautifully orchestrated, I believe by Kate Hunter. Although the harmonies have been exaggerated for effect the voices work well together and the piano with flute accompaniment fits excellently.
Just as good comedy should still be good drama, so good comedy songs still have to be good music if they are to work and Polly and her band never forget that. Each is a good at what they do so ultimately this is an album of good songs.
As we have seen before it isn’t just for laughs either, as Polly writes some excellent, poignant ballads. Particular mention must go to “Only Just Out Of Sight”, This is beautiful, a song about the loss of a loved one, yet it’s in no way mournful or depressing. Instead Polly has chosen to take a more uplifting approach. Whilst they may have departed we can still call on the memory of them to find comfort or help, through the things they’ve taught us.
There’s also a break-up song, of a type we see when relationships reach a certain stage. The couple still love each other, as the song suggest “More Than Ever” and yet these things are left unsaid and it it can be easier to part than carry on. The chorus, with its repetition of “I love you” is quite heart wrenching.
The quality of the album also extends to its packaging, with the now trademark bold cover this time in blue. Will we get the whole rainbow eventually? The excellent lyric book is stapled in place.
As a final thought I cannot leave “Good Driver” without mention of my favourite line. Polly reaches for rhymes that a less confident writer wouldn’t dare touch and this one concerns a woman at nightclub who has attracted the attentions of a man, to her great delight.
“He was fit an’ I was smitten”. I challenge you not to laugh. You should buy this album, which is available from the artist’s website.