Joan Armatrading Ray Coleman - Essay

Ray Coleman

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

With her oblique, uniquely structured songs and a voice that swirls so passionately around the words that you just have to listen carefully, Joan Armatrading has quickly become one of our most distinguished artists.

When she arrived with her brilliant album "Joan Armatrading," keen students of the songs knew it would be hard for her to top such a collection. Every one, from "Love And Affection" to "Water And The Wine," had that compelling touch of a truly original artist who had absorbed all the right styles and then transplanted her own urgent stamp.

Here she is, then, long after that crucial breakthrough album … and it's great to be able to herald "Show Some Emotion" as a spectacular follow-up, full of warm songs reflecting the album title and also mirroring Joan's apparent obsession with romantic aspirations which she fears might not be fulfilled.

Her roots lie firmly in the blues, and never has this been more apparent than on "Opportunity," a cleverly conceived song about committing a crime (a bank raid, perhaps?) which results in misery. Joan's aspirations to this depth of songwriting bode well for the future….

The lyrical theme of the album is a mixture of romantic optimism and experience, exposing a lady of sensitive feeling.

Ray Coleman, "Joan: Showing Love and Emotion," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), September 10, 1977, p. 20.