Jessie Buckley and Bernard Butler: For All Our Days that Tear the Heart review – a mesmerising debut | Music


Jessie Buckley’s strength as an actor is that, however preposterous her character or dialogue, she locates something true and compelling and makes you believe it. That same rich, animating intelligence ripples through this very promising debut. Fans of Butler’s guitar playing may be disappointed that he prefers acoustic to the electric extravagances of his collaborations with other flamboyant vocalists like Brett Anderson and David McAlmont. Yet his production has never been better. For All Our Days… leans into American, Irish, English and even Spanish folk traditions without slavishly following any of them, and his light, confident touch gives due time and space to Buckley’s magical voice.

She can be puckish, yearning, impossibly weary, intimate – and that’s all on one track, 20 Years a Growing. The pair’s most engaging songs start spare, then meander with gathering intensity to an orchestral crescendo, as on first single The Eagle and the Dove, but they handle more uptempo material convincingly too, as on Babylon Days. What stays with you are moments like Buckley’s startling cackle at the close of kiss-off ballad Beautiful Regret – the sound of someone rightly relishing their good work, knowing how lucky they are.

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