Eleanor McEvoy stuffMany artists in their 40s slow down.  Not Eleanor McEvoy. ‘Stuff’ is her fifth album in 6 years.

‘Stuff’ is a collection of old out-takes, rarities and some re-recordings, and as with her last album is a mixture of originals and covers.

The range on the album is quite something, moving from the brisk piano-led opener The Thought of You (with almost raunchy lyrics) to the spectacular bluesy ballad Don’t Blame the Tune.  Right there we have two of the album’s highlights, both self-penned, proof if it were needed that Eleanor is as good a songwriter as she is a singer.

Another one that jumps off the disc is an up-tempo song which she co-wrote with Rodney Crowell, Please Heart You’re Killing Me.  Chock-full of melody, harmony and horns, this song could be a great hit single, if we were still in an era when hit singles meant something.

The variety on the album proves she is comfortable in almost any genre, and the quality of the arrangements and the re-mastering of the older songs gives the work a consistency that this type of collection can sometimes lack.  However, as an album with some incredible highs, there are a few songs that are somewhat ‘bubbling under’, one example being the low-key slightly static version of Chuck Berry’s Memphis Tennessee.

But, better to focus on the positives, and there are many other songs that deserve singling out.  Firstly, this reviewer is far from fluent in French, but Ms McEvoy seems to have no such problem and sings the language with great panache in her version of Milord, a song made famous by Edith Piaf.  Indeed it is not the only song with a European feel, we also have the gentle accordion-rich waltz The Night May Still Be Young, But I Am Not.

Whistle For The Clown is a song by the Fratellis with a beautiful chord structure and is an unusual choice perhaps but it’s another highlight and given a nice reading by Eleanor and her musicians towards the end of the album. Finally the set finishes on a pleasant note with the country-ish Lovers Chapel, leaving us yet again admiring the latest successful chapter in this illustrious musical career.

Stuff‘ was released on 21 March 2014 in Ireland and will be released in the UK on 12 May.