Boomkat Product Review:
In the last couple of years there's been no shortage of lost folk albums re-appearing for the world to enjoy once more, and the wonderful Numero Group label (which is fast becoming one of our most loved imprints...) has managed to find another. Hailing from the bleak northern city of Halifax, Catherine Howe was initially trained at drama school, gaining a brief stint in Doctor Who ('The Underwater Menace' for all you Whovians out there, wink wink) among other jobs, but all this time she was penning songs and music, she felt, was her true calling in life. Eventually she was 'discovered' by Reflection Records, who she met in the CBS foyer - and the beginning of a fruitful (but doomed) relationship started. Reflection hooked Howe up with jazz pianist and producer Bobby Scott who was most famous for writing 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother', and the two hit it off immediately falling deeply in love. Scott arranged Howe's songs and crafted an album, which was to become 'What a Beautiful Place', and made something truly grandiose on a miniscule budget. Sadly the label folded very soon after the release of the album, and copies barely made it into the shops, but a copy did draw the attention of RCA records, who would continue releasing her music until 1979. Although her later albums achieved moderate success, it's 'What a Beautiful Place' which still stands as her finest work - the marriage of innocent but frankly gorgeous songwriting and inspired, delicately measured production and arrangement is rarely achieved, especially on such a 'small scale' release. This feels like a treasured classic, the sort of record that should be as highly regarded as other fruits of the genre (Nick Drake's 'Bryter Later' is cited on the sleeve quite rightly) and all praise should go again to the Numero Group label who have managed to treat the record with the respect it deserves. The original album has been remastered and repackaged, with original artwork and notes inside (as usual with Numero releases). Pure and beautiful, lovers of good quality folk music should investigate immediately. Highly Recommended.