Depending on your cultural reference of choice, Bertie Blackman jumped down the rabbit hole, took the blue pill or walked through the wardrobe on her game-changing 2009 LP, Secrets And Lies. Five years on, it doesn’t appear that she plans to return anytime soon. Nor should she feel any obligation to – especially if it means the end result is as bright and imaginative as The Dash.
First impressions are lasting right out of the gate, with lead single and opening number, Run For Your Life, serving as not only one of Blackman’s best, but a frontrunner for the year’s strongest single. With a gated snare that would make Phil Collins proud, matched to a spiralling keyboard refrain that would make John Oates proud, it’s indicative of what’s to come with the rest. Although its influences, as demonstrated, are deeply rooted in ’80s pop, The Dash manages to give this inspiration a bold contemporary context, driving Blackman’s songwriting strengths in a bolder, hook-oriented direction.
Forget everything you know about Bertie Blackman – again. The Dash is yet another daring reinvention from an artist who will continually change the questions just when you think you have all the answers.
DAVID JAMES YOUNG