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She's elegantly feline, needing only a diamante cigarette holder to be a modern incarnation of Eartha Kitt. Her recorded voice is a Kittish purr that's invariably called "sultry" and, sometimes, "sinister". The latter derives from the melding of hypnotic trip-hop and enigmatic lyrics that reflect her interest in the occult and tarot. I reach into my soul," says Joyce, whose Ghanaian great-aunt, it's no surprise to learn, practices voodoo. Voodoo Chic is an apt title for her new album.
Though we weren't going for a literal translation. Primed by the popularity of lounge chanteuses such as Norah Jones and Amy Winehouse, radio is now more receptive to Helicopter Girl's breathy allure. So what happened back in ?
There is the view that, up against the likes of Coldplay and Richard Ashcroft that year, Helicopter Girl didn't stand a chance anyway. But at the time, Joyce gave every impression of hating the attention. Even now, she's uninterested in current pop, claiming never to have heard of fellow Scots Franz Ferdinand. The title Voodoo Chic accurately conveys the affected nature of the proceedings, which become a bit of a Portisheadache after a few tracks.
The most authentic voodoo ambience derives from the samples of Dr John's "Gris Gris Gumbo Ya Ya" in "Jakarta Flatline", while elsewhere the settings produced by either Paul Statham or the Past Present Organisation range from relaxed to lazy, with burring organ or jazzy sax providing the main textural appeal of tracks such as "Rivermouth" and "Her Lucille". The most memorable song is Tim Buckley's "Blue Melody", rendered in a tropical lilt of piano and congas that's identical to the original, except that Helicopter Girl's vocal limitations drain off all of the emotional energy Buckley invested in the song.
Depressing, but not in an attractive way.
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