A round-up of recent EPs and singles
FRAN WYBURN AND THE INDIGOS are a Yorkshire-based trio whose second EP, Postcards, is out now. Here are five tracks of acoustic folk characterised by complex arrangements with lots of instrumental textures, rich harmonies from Rosie Evans and George Birkett, melodically strong songs and good lyrics. The opener, ‘Blue Sky’ is happily upbeat after a pensive start but the top track is probably ‘Snakes And Ladders’, nicely miserable with a heavenly choir and what? – accordion? harmonium? synthesiser? Not sure. George is a very fine classical style guitarist and it’s his virtuosity that makes the group’s sound – listen to that delicious little break on ‘Spend Our Days’.
Foreign Waters is the first commercial release from EMILY MAE WINTERS whose songs are as much influenced by her love of poetry as of music. The fine opening track, ‘Anchor’ is a step beyond the familiar verse-chorus-bridge format and is an award-winner as is the second song, ‘Miles To Go’, but the title track and ‘Until The Light’ are the ones that really show off Emily’s powerful and flexible voice. The EP was produced by Ben Walker who also plays steel guitar and mandolin, while Emily plays both guitar and piano.
KAT HEALY is a singer-songwriter from Edinburgh who really should be much better known notwithstanding her victory at this year’s CalMac Music Awards. Her latest EP, Wolf, comes out of the death of her father and it’s stripped down and raw, built on cello, harmonium and piano. There’s a perfect moment at the end of ‘Beautiful Peace’ with just her voice and a few notes at the top end of the keyboard as the song fades away. Kat has a gift for melody which isn’t always found in outpourings of deeply-felt emotion and that is reflected in the choice of the traditional ‘Highland Lullaby’ as the final track.
‘You Can’t Help Who You Love’ is the first single from Cactacus, the fourth album by RUTH THEODORE. Ruth is an artist who does things her way; originally a violinist she taught herself guitar while busking and still uses odd tunings. Her music is characterised by rich instrumentation spanning the rock band and the orchestra. This song is built on a chunky rhythm with lots of voices on the choruses and a lyric that tumbles over itself in its explanation of the vagaries of love. This bodes well for the album.
We’re a little late with this one but CANDI’S DOG are always on the road; ‘I Couldn’t Ask For More’ is their current single and they’ll certainly sell it to you if you ask nicely. Candi’s Dog are an acoustic trio from Newcastle-upon-Tyne with a solid basis of fretless bass and drums and featuring guitar, banjo, melodica and kazoo if ‘Crossing The Line’ is any guide. Their songs are up-tempo and upbeat even when the lyrics concentrate on the heartbreak of lost love.
Not Her Own is the new EP from YVONNE MCDONNELL. It leads with ‘I’m Not This Layer Of Skin’, a protest about the objectification of women delivered without a trace of anger. It’s a statement of principle as is ‘My Own Advice’. The title track turns Yvonne’s attention outwards to a woman who is finally able to break out from the restraints of society. ‘Not Her Own’ refers to the choices she’s heretofore been forced to make and the theme is again internalised in ‘The Savages’. Maria Kroon features on violin alongside Yvonne and there is cello and possibly synthesiser adding more textures.