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Amy Wadge | Woj (Mankaton)
I didn't expect to like this album; it arrived unsolicited and, to be honest, the rudimentary cover wasn't exactly enticing. And the opening track, with its predictable power chords, didn't particularly excite. But things got brighter with the second track, Scream, a delicate piece full of acoustic guitars and gentle finger-picking solos. By the third track, Anywhere, Amy had me hooked. And the reason? Well, for a start she's got a great, raw, earthy voice; secondly, she's surrounded herself with a top backing band - Aled Richards (Catatonia); Dave Bronze (ex-Eric Clapton) and the great Robbie McIntosh on lead guitar [er, John, we're not supposed to be heard condoning such an MOR band in our hip, indie publication - Ed]. The choice of musicians shows; Amy might be a relative novice in this game, but she punches above her weight and the thirteen self-penned songs proves she has real talent. That much is true, because she won Best Female Solo Artist at the Welsh Music Awards in 2002 - beating Charlotte Church into the bargain [oh, so it must be true - Ed]. Since then she has honed her craft, appearing at Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk Festival and touring in Australia and the Far East.
By rights, Amy should be snapped up by a major label, who should be able to elevate her further. 'Woj' (which is how you pronounce her name, incidentally) has traces of Bonnie Raitt in its rootsy, bluesy stylings - and that is no bad thing. If you find this CD buried away somewhere, spend a few quid on it and show everyone that there's more to Wales than Cerys Matthews.

John Stacey
March-April 2004