Ophelia's Shadow Review

It's been a decade since Toyah Willcox lisped her way hitwards with the likes of 'It's A Mystery' and 'I Want To Be Free'. Since then she has carved out a bizarre showbiz career, appearing almost simultaneously at the National Theatre and on children's ITV, playing Sally Bowles in a West End production of Cabaret (where the orchestra walked out, leaving Toyah to sing her way through the entire show acapella), and becoming a rock wife to Robert Fripp. Meanwhile LPs like 1987's 'Desire' and 1988's 'Prostitute' have slipped out unnoticed and unchartbound. 

Clearly, Toyah Willcox has not been idle and said lack of idleness is reflected on her new album. Liberally salted with playing by the lies of Fripp and top pianist Keith Tippett, 'Ophelia's Shadow' is several galaxies away from the clunking sub-Diamond Dogs pop of 'Thunder In The Mountains and its crazy-coloured ilk. 'Ghost Light' and 'The Shaman Says' glide and shimmer in a manner similar to recent work by Kate Bush or even David Sylvian. Willcox's voice is a more thoughtful instrument than of yore and - despite a far from operatic range - wraps itself effectively around the snakey  (and even occasionally African) rhythms of her band's playing and she even feels confident enough to give us a wedge of Hamlet at one point. What these songs are actually about is something of a mystery but the're always slinky and interesting. Future outings may prove fascinating.

Q, 1991