Doodlebug Alley by Jude Cowan
She accompanies herself with spiky mandolin punctuation, a sparse nod in the direction of music hall, and often delivers the melodies of her songs as poetry rather than using the moon'n'june template that so many songwriters grasp in desperation.
There is a lot of anger in her tales; they are the aural equivalent of Paula Rego's dark etchings; and tales they are, Scandinavian-flavoured fairy tales which have no happy endings and no reassuring musical outcomes, short stories in song.
At times, a distant piano echoes Erik Satie. It reminds me of being terrified by Albert and the Lion as a child: not by the horrid story, but by the frighteningly ancient woman I imagined in an adjoining room who was playing sinister piano stabs so quietly in time with Stanley Holloway's grunting delivery.
Jude's music is very English. It holds all those secondary-school history and English Literature lessons in an icy grip, smacking the dull and pedantic teachers across their smug faces with a sharp and naturally intelligent hand. What perfect revenge on the cruel and restricting world!
The child in Jude triumphs over the sticky treacle of rules and regulations, and she soars off with the dragonflies to crackle in the clouds, a lightning streak of perception and fragility.
It is a delightful album: check her out on www.myspace.com/judecowan