Ancient Heart

Ancient Heart

When it was released in 1988, Tanita Tikaram’s debut album Ancient Heart flummoxed critics and defied categorization. The singer’s dusky, languorous vocals belied her 19 years, while her highly literate songs skirted the edges of folk and jazz conventions without adhering to either. Produced with taste by keyboardist Rod Argent and drummer Peter Van Hooke, Ancient Heart charts a young woman’s emergence into adulthood in songs like “Valentine Heart,” “Poor Cow” and “Sighing Innocents.” With wistfulness but never with resignation, Tikaram strains against family ties in “World Outside Your Window” and wrestles with love’s mysteries in “He Likes the Sun.” The album’s melancholy tinge is lightened by the Celtic lilt of “Good Tradition” and the skip-along bounce of “Poor Cow.” The standout track here is the entrancing “Twist in My Sobriety,” an oblique ode to alienation. It sounds odd to praise an album titled Ancient Heart for its youthful vibrancy — but that’s just one more paradoxical virtue possessed by this fascinating and seductive release.

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