Rachel Croft, Hours Awake (Black Ink) ***

YOU may well have seen and heard the multi-faceted Rachel Croft, ex-University of York student with a first in environmental geography; self-taught illustrator; siren busker; Phoenix Inn jazz chanteuse, bar residency regular and, here, singer-songwriter on her crowdfunded debut album. And not before time.

It showcases her first 11 songs written between 2014-2017, recorded at Dan Webster’s Paper Plane Records studios. Rachel’s acoustic guitar is supplemented by his electric guitar on the stand-out single Only Dreams, and elsewhere Karl Mullen’s piano, Rachel Brown’s cello, Emlyn Vaughan’s double bass and Emily Lawler’s violin complement Rachel’s golden voice: one that draws you in like Hayley Hutchinson, Bonneville and Amy May Ellis.

Rachel tends to mid-paced melancholia and songs of love’s vicissitudes, but the opening Old Climbing Tree, with its haunting Celtic folk echoes of Clannad, and the closing Can’t Replace Your Perfect offer welcome contrasts, even if the gospel-style finale is too hastily curtailed.