KAREN SWAN – Scatterlings (Super Tiny Records)

ScatterlingsFrom Solihull, Birmingham, and currently based in Bristol, Swan lists herself as actor, poet, clown, vegan, writer and singer, and it’s the latter incarnation on display here on Scatterlings, six tracks (mostly compiled from 2021) accompanied by Jack Goodall on electric guitar. With a high pitched voice that perches in the Kate Bush branches and a folk sensibility, it opens with the title track as she sings how “We are mother earth’s dangerous offspring/Every cell, every vein every part of every person is linked to nature/We all feel the call of the wild, into the wild!”, the chorus duly swooping and screeching on Goodall’s guitar wings. Joined by Layla Tutt on bass, charting obsession and self-delusion ‘You Don’t Know Me’,  is a more brooding number with flashes of Goodall’s threatening crystalline guitar barbs, Tutt handling the shakers on the urgent, nervy ‘Dream’, the only track to feature drums. A more recent live version can be found on her Bandcamp page featuring pyrotechnic electric mandolin.

Switchbacking from calm and sedate to bustling urgency to mirror the lyrics about winds of change and “growing hope from old mistrust”, ‘Light and Time’ has Swan and Dominic James Hyde on acoustic guitars while, a more recent track from last December, the atmospheric ‘The Sea’ with its circling guitar figure and layered voices is dedicated to all those who seek sanctuary, here Emma Reading from Bonfire Radicals on e-bow electric guitar and Hyde on piano. Rounding off with the pizzicato, bass throbbing rhythm of ‘Under The Sun’, it’s a heady excursion into avant-folk that mingles its experimental enquiries with traditional roots; not for everyone, perhaps, but well worth investigating.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.karenswan.bandcamp.com

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