The While and Matthews album features twelve original songs covering topics ranging from the birth of a new baby (‘Welcome to your Life’) to the aftermath of hurricane Katrina (‘Single Act of Kindness’). While gives a heart-rending performance on an old classic from Matthews’ pen ‘Blue old Saturday Night’ then turns her searing vocal chords on the scathing anti –war song ‘Shame’. In 2006 Julie Matthews contributed ten songs to the Sony Award winning Radio Ballads for BBC Radio 2. While and Matthews have taken one of those songs and turned it into the breathtaking duet ‘The Sum of what I am’, the pivotal song in the Radio Ballad ‘The Enemy Within’ – living with the HIV virus.’
A highlight of the album comes in the shape of ‘Take these Bones’, Matthews’ song inspired by the plight of the ‘Comfort women’ in World War Two. It is estimated as many as 200,000 girls and young women were taken by the Japanese government during the war and used as prostitutes for their military. The song is written from the view point of one such woman and inspired by the testimony of Korean Gil Won Ok, now in her eighties.
A bold and challenging recording feat was achieved for this track when While and Matthews mixed the voices of more than 250 women, recorded during a series of vocal workshops, to join together on a jubilant final chorus. The result is both moving and powerful. Together Alone gathers together a band of outstanding musicians, highlighting newcomers (Tom Chapman – cajon and percussion, Neil Fairclough – electric bass), and old favourites (Howard Lees -guitars and mandocello, Steve Brookfield – keyboards, Danny While – double bass, Joe Broughton – fiddles and Helen Watson – backing vocals).
When an album featuring the current Fatea Female Vocalist Of The Year, Chris While, drops through the office letterbox, it’s going to jump up a few places on the listening list…..All that really remains is for me to wholeheartedly recommend “Together Alone” to you’ – Fatea