Ophelia's Shadow Review

When gifts of musical credibility were being handed out, old Toyah was a fair way down the queue. From her nascent days as brash new waver to the woman warrior who belted out a string of hits in the early '80's, her success was always dogged by critical sniping. 

But 'Ophelia's Shadow', her third album for the esoteric EG label, sees her long disenfranchised from the pop mainstream. Gone is the kitsch melodrama of old. 'Ophelia's Shadow' sounds like a marriage of convenience between the vocal eccentricities of Danielle Dax and David Sylvian's ambient soundscapes.

The mood is calm: keyboard and guitar lines weave a subtle, spacious mesh around the songs. On 'Turning Tide' the rhythms reach a CAN-like syncopation. The playing is neat and accomplished throughout but what's missing is a shot of inspiration. There are signposts towards some promising experimental directions, but frustratingly Toyah ends up stuck in a musical cul-de-sac. 

The highlight of the whole shebang is pianist extraordinaire Keith Tippett's scintillating coda on 'Lords Of The Never Known'. Unfortunately, it merely underlines what's lacking elsewhere.

Select, 1991