The native New York singer-songwriter unleashes her inner Annie Lennox and Carly Simon as she gets inside stories of joy, hurt and struggle.

Label: 157 Records
Time: 13 tracks / 46 mins.

Listening to this album, you might think that Bryden had just gone through a painful split (“I’m taking it back, everything you stole from me”) but, recently married and pregnant, she is actually drawing on past emotions and other people’s stories.

So opening track “In the Morning,” where she sings, “In the morning, I’m going to wake up who I am” is not about a new life without her man, but it does reflect her go-for-it attitude, and could be about taking life on after being diagnosed with stress-induced alopecia and losing all her hair within two weeks.

There are a couple of Brydens here. Initially, we get the reflective balladeer (who has more than a hint of Karen Carpenter and Carly Simon about her on “Barcelona’s Gone”). But there is more of Annie Lennox to songs like “Lie to You” (hopefully I’m not being influenced by the title) and the very fine “Never too Late.”

Bryden presents for BBC Radio 2, and wrote the intense “What is it You Want?” after a show celebrating her favourite female singers and imagining Dusty Springfield being wronged and letting it all out.

The native New Yorker likes to write songs with stories – some with clearer narratives, and some where you can fill in the gaps. So this is one that works best when there are few distractions and you can give the words the attention they deserve.

For me, despite it showing off her voice at its most Ashley Cleveland-like, the somewhat twangy “My House” feels outdated and second hand.

In contrast, one of the best tracks is “Thought I was Meant for You,” where she sings about a break-up and the dashing of her hopes that her man would be a life-long partner. There is raw emotional power here.

But she also does up-beat well, such as on “Dared the World and Won,” about her baby daughter exceeding all her expectations. She describes it as, “the one true love song that I allowed myself on the album.”

Bryden has gone through some ups and downs over the last few years and has put those emotions into a set of songs that can touch people – not least people facing a break-up and rebooting their lives.

Derek Walker<br /></p>"</p>"