Karmacloud – Longing For An Elusive Equilibrium

If you like your Celtic folk-pop with some Scandi on the side, Irish-Nordic trio Karmacloud should be right up your street or gata depending on which side of the North Sea you’re inhabiting.

The Irish-Swedish-Danish alt-folk trio have just released their latest single ‘The Longing‘, a track which “likens the adventure we experience through love and romance to a hike through the forest: passing in and out of the light and shadows of love and loss, all the while longing for an elusive equilibrium that brings us comfort.”

Be that as it may (most forest hikes I’ve participated in have resulted in my longing for the elusive equilibrium of a big comfy armchair and large G&T), this is a delightful folk ballad not without an abundance of pop sensibilities, delivered with a sincere honesty and gentle warmth.  As you would expect from a song dip-dyed in the well of traditional folk, it comes replete with reps of soft acoustic guitar loops, brightly chiming piano sequences and gorgeous clouds of vocal harmonies.

However, as is often the case, there is more going on underneath the surface than might first seem apparent.  From early on, intermittent sample sounds dart through the vocals like fleeting shadows adding to the afore-mentioned sense of loss and elusiveness.

The song’s airier folk elements are earthed by clever percussion that leans towards a jazz style, while the addition of a dreamy drone of unknown origin- harmonium? accordion? – creates warmth and adds texture as it sketches the most inviting of melodic landscapes.

“Along the way, we learn from our mistakes, and we discover that relationships can be shaped by the secrets we hide and honesty we reveal that make us vulnerable and open to receiving.”

Vocally this is as engaging as any vocal can be, with Danny Forde using all his Irish charm to convey the sincerity of the everyday existentialism behind the song. In fact, having Forde at the helm gives ‘The Longing’ an essence of traditional Irish balladry to which his Scandi comrades have added magical strands of that innovative folk-pop for which they are renowned.
Karmacloud is Linnéa Lundgren, Rumle Langdal and Danny Forde.  ‘The Longing’ heralds the first of three new 2017 releases, the updates on which you can keep track of on the band’s Facebook page. You can listen to The Longing, which is out now via digital channels, here.

 

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Julia Jacklin Turns ‘Someday’ On Its Head With Strokes Live Cover

julia-jacklin-photo-shervin-iainez
julia-jacklin-photo-shervin-iainez

Australian rising star Julia Jacklin has just released the video for stunning cover of ‘Someday’ the smash hit by The Strokes.

Recorded live for an in-studio session with Australian radio station Triple J for their celebrated ‘Like a Version’ show, Jacklin performed the song, which won multiple Best International Song gongs worldwide, in her own inimitable idiosyncratic style.  Slowing the tempo right down and giving it her trademark country-grunge twist, Julia Jacklin took ‘Someday’ by the ankles and turned it upside down.

A fan of The Strokes chart topper which the singer first heard at the tender age of 12, Julia’s rendition whilst respectful, is as unique and off-rock as one could possibly get. Proving that imitation isn’t necessarily the sincerest form of flattery, Jacklin and her band take this legendary band’s #No1 song and take it to a different level.

Slow, drawling, warm, infectious, understated and as mellow as hell, this performance just lingers on the soul long after the final bars have faded into the lights.

Julia Jacklin came to prominence in 2016 when her debut album, ‘Don’t Let The Kids Win’ was released to unanimous critical acclaim.  Receiving cross-station airplay in the UK, her single, ‘Coming of Age’ was a country-fused indie-rock blinder that won her an army of fans across the British Isles.

Having already toured successfully on the back of her 2016 releases, Jacklin returns to the road in 2017 with an extensive list of live dates including slots at some of the top music festivals from Primavera to Oslo’s Øyafestivalen.  She is also set to play a live at the city’s renowned annual music showcase By:Larm which runs from 2nd to 4th March.

For those interested in seeing this unique, vivacious and fascinating artist play her especial style of music live alongside her extremely cool band, here’s a list of UK&I dates inc her headline at Whelans, Dublin in late Feb.

Feb 22 – Green Store Door, Brighton, UK (SOLD OUT)
Feb 23 – Soup Kitchen, Manchester, UK (SOLD OUT)
Feb 24 – Bodega, Nottingham, UK
Feb 25 – Whelan’s, Dublin, Ireland *****
Feb 27 – King Tuts, Glasgow, UK
Feb 28 – Headrow Houes, Leeds, UK
March 1 – Louisiana, Bristol, UK (SOLD OUT)
March 2 – Scala, London, UK
March 3-4 – By:Larm Festival, Oslo, Norway

June 3 – Field Day Festival, UK

A full list of tour dates and up to date information can be found on Julia’s Facebook page.  If you haven’t already dipped your toe in to the Jacklin pool, you can find ‘Don’t Let The Kids Win’ on iTunes and other online stores.  What you won’t find though, is this gem! Enjoy!

Dédé Davi Makes Her Debut & Alan Wilder Is Back A La Mode

Dede
Dede

Alan Wilder steps back in from the sidelines as performer-producer on debut single from upcoming Londoner, Dédé Davi.

Alan Wilder, man behind the Recoil music project, formerly one quarter of Depeche Mode, those pioneers of synth pop whose music captured the zeitgeist of ’80s experimental electronica, and general all-round enigma, has, after some years of silence which presumably he ‘enjoyed’, resurfaced in the form of performer/producer on an R&B piano-ballad by an upcoming English singer/songwriter.

calling-the-clock

‘Calling The Clock‘ is the debut single from Londoner Dédé Davi to whom Wilder was introduced by erstwhile Mode road-manager, Daryl Bamonte, now a successful label and artist manager in his own right. Dédé, who has gone from a Uni degree course, through being BBC play-listed, to working with the likes of Steve Hewitt (Paul Draper, Placebo), is currently in-studio working on her debut album.

Rehearsed and recorded in a negligible four hours, the song sees Wilder reprise his role as accompanying pianist, and music composer and arranger, one that recalls his indelible contributions to songs like ‘Somebody’ and ‘Pimpf’ and which will doubtless reawaken the memories of many a Mode fan.

Speaking of the collaboration with Dédé. Wilder said:

 I was struck not only by her beautifully soulful and sophisticated voice, but also the simplicity and directness of the words along with a melody which left plenty of room to come up with the arrangement … With limited hours in the studio, an immediate focus was required to get the right piano and vocal performances … The whole experience was refreshing and rewarding …”

alan-wilder
Alan Wilder

Similarly, the song itself – lyrics & melody – was written in a matter of hours, early ones at that, in a creative burst that saw the Croydon-born artist put body to a title that had been lying around for quite some time.  Explaining how the track came about, the singer confessed:

I knew I liked the sound of it; I just didn’t have a clue what it meant to me or what it could turn into. It came out of frustration, I kind of just stopped caring what it could be and at 1am on a Saturday I just wrote what came out and what I felt like.”

Listening to the lyrics one can easily understand how they flowed during the lonely darkness of the small hours.  The sense of frustration is palpable, the emotion raw, the uncertainty the territory of the still of the night.

Wilder’s musicianship is as meticulous as it is intuitive and his understated yet effectual performance provides the perfect balance for Davi’s heartfelt vocal. Her voice, which is pitch perfect and well controlled throughout, has a warmth and silkiness that lends itself well to this style of soulful balladry.  Mr Bamonte certainly had a eureka moment when he conceived of this perfect musical pairing!

‘Calling The Clock’ is a masterclass in subtlety and discernment.  A modern day soul song, emotionally stirring without being overindulgent, performed with accomplished restraint, by two musical perfectionists.

Dédé Davi  is as they say, ‘one to watch’ and so in a way, is Alan Wilder. Where or when he will next be seen or heard is anyone’s guess. We can only hope it won’t be another four years. In the meantime, you can download or stream ‘Calling The Clock’ (our on Smile Records) here : itunes | spotify and watch Dédé perform the song in the video here,

Pascal Pinon – Sundur : Apart And Together

PP Sundur

“All through the years of my youth, Neither could have known
Their own thought from the other’s, We were so much at one”

– ‘O Do Not Love Too Long’, W.B Yeats

Minimalism leaves little room for hyperbole.  It offers up no place to hide.  It leaves both musician and reviewer exposed.  No chicanery to smokescreen or dazzle.  No scope for canny musical or verbal legerdemain.

This is exactly the position in which, sisters Jófríõur & Ásthildur Ákadóttir of Pascal Pinon have put themselves.  In their new album, ‘Sundur‘, they have laid themselves bare on a sparsely decorated expanse none too dissimilar to their Icelandic home.

This is an album with its roots in their sibling relationship, the beating heart from which it stems and flowers upwards, a slight and whimsical delight.

Taken from the Icelandic proverb, “sundur og saman” or, “apart and together”, ‘Sundur’ charts the ever shifting circumstances of a relationship sundered by distance and necessity but welded at its seams by an unbreakable bond formed since birth.

Togetherness in separation is at the heart of both the album and its opening track, ‘Jósa & Lotta’.  

PP Sundur
Jófríõur & Ásthildur Ákadóttir

A sepia filtered intro flows into a piano acoustic duet of such delightful simplicity the gentle emotion of the vocal is allowed to float to the fore.  Listening to the sisters sing is comparable to watching white light shine through a double layer of crystal.  Pure, ice-clear iridescence!

External elements only come into play as the song draws to a end.  Taking up an outside looking in kind of stance, these never once cross the threshold to break into the continuum of looping piano sequences.  Egg shaker percussion, and search and seek synth lines, evolve into an alien interference to close out a song that subtly contrasts old with new, and the simplistic with a futuristic unknown.

While the album opener centres on relationships between the living, the second track in, ‘53‘, is very much about following and reconnecting with those who have died. While the instrumental hinges on a repetitious guitar loop that encircles the mournful vocal, the delicately crafted lyrics centre on a mother-son tragedy.

The deep pain and unbearable loss suffered by the protagonists are carved with such sincerity and understanding as to clearly evince the keen insight into human reaction and emotion with which the Ákadóttir sisters are possessed.

“I wiped the tears that almost fell, in the church, If I was a prayer, I’d pray for her, & hope that she’s found some heaven”

While Pascal Pinon sing in English, their indigenous language is Icelandic, so it should come as no surprise that their vocal is at its most fascinating when they sing in their native tongue.  There are two such songs on ‘Sundur’ –‘Skammdegi’ and ‘Ást’.

Icelandic for ‘love’, ‘Ást’, is an enchantment of icy piano notes that fall like tears through raindrops onto the most fragile of vocals. Accessorised with a momentary burst of melodrama and a handful of guitar strums, the minimalism works because of the songs earnest simplicity.

It is through their on-point use of such simplicity that Jófríõur & Ásthildur Ákadóttir exemplify their proficient and intuitive understanding vocal nuance, pertinent pauses, and spaciousness, used to reinforce thematic weight in an instrumental that itself is practically weightless.

‘Skammdegi’, which means ‘midwinter’ , is another twilit mesmerism. Staggered vocal mirroring melds, forming a 3D vocal of strange, Lothlórien loveliness.  The sisters’ voices start this dance apart, pirouetting gracefully around each other, but by the end they are dancing together in glorious unified harmony.

Taking up the instrumental mantle of this menagerie are two tracks,  ‘Spider Light‘ and ‘Twax’ (such a great word, isn’t it?).  The former has a very retro vibe redolent of the early ’80s electro-labs of OMD or Thomas Dolby mashed with some ’70s cabaret bossa nova.

This electronic trip back in time is reined in by a piano sequence with all the force and agility of a strong breeze. The piece ends with the most chillingly fantastical electronic horror … ‘spider light’ sound effects!

As an accordion player myself, it was only natural that I would be drawn to the strains of ‘Fuglar‘, a muddle of accordion and harmonium, played in seesaw staccato reps redolent of a car alarm. An interesting, quirky ditty in which the instrumental sum of random parts punctuates the vocal. It reminds me of my childhood, when I started to learn accordion, and would sit honking and depressing wedges of notes just to make a musical noise.

‘Fuglar’ doesn’t just give us a glimpse of another dimension to Pascal Pinon’s personality – fun and slightly zany with a willingness to not just think outside the box, but to rip holes in it – it also explores their adept musicianship and wildly creative streak, both of which cross a broader spectrum than first listen might assume.  Theirs is an imagination with few bounds, moulded by a musical skill that has learnt through experience that restraint can work to its advantage, and that less is often more.

Pascal Pinon

“For nothing ever stays the same …”

How often does one get the chance to name-check Marlene Dietrich in an album review? Once? Twice if it’s a leap year?  This is what I love about ‘Sundur’  – its sheer diversity and eccentricity, and I use that term in the most respectful way possible!

“The main themes in ‘Orange’ is wordplay (repeating phrases but changing one word to alter the whole meaning), diary- or a kind of memoir-styled lyrics and imagining you’re in a piano bar in the 50’s singing about your loves and tragedies.”

The album’s lead single, ‘Orange’ is the kind of song Marlene Dietrich would sing if she were hanging underneath the lamplight today.

“He’s still in recovery from my bitterness”

Exquisitely original, ‘Orange’ is about love, lovers, and breakups.  Its old music hall piano instrumental accompanies a keenly penned, incisive and droll-humoured monologue that reminds me of Victoria Wood.  This is a wonderful modern day twist on vintage!

The album finale is ‘Weeks‘, one of its few contemporary electro-tracks.  It’s an interesting quirk to end a predominantly “reserved” ambience with a mad scientist’s cocktail of knob twiddling and electro “divers alarums”.   It comprises a musical frenzy over which an insistent vocal gently punches the fraught air, as it struggles with a claustrophobic atmosphere created by the peripheral electronic entanglement.

“I wonder if time will be soothing or malignant or will it take us back to where we were.

You took my sanity a part one shouldn’t give away and with tenacity your grip is locked across the sea.”

By taking a pared back approach to arranging ‘Sundur’, Pascal Pinon have successfully achieved maximum impact with minimal instrumentation.  They have skilfully attained a sound as delicate as egg-shell, a whispering and at times idiosyncratic music that effortlessly evokes the deepest sentiments with a grace and eloquence many can only aspire to.

A series of magical moments at times shrouded in mystery, ‘Sundur’ gives us a glimpse into the secret world of siblings, a fascinating phenomenon that transcends the physical.

For more information and to keep up to speed with all releases and news, follow Pascal Pinon on Facebook.  They go on tour shortly taking in Poland, Germany, Holland, France and Britain (alas, no Ireland!): again, full details on their FB page.  ‘Sundur’ is available to buy via Bandcamp and to stream on Spotify.

Ahead Of Her Dublin Gig : Introducing Siv Jakobsen

photo by Jørgen Nordby
photo by Jørgen Nordby

A small municipality sits outside Oslo, on the Norwegian strait of Viken, that lies between Sweden and Denmark.  It’s hub is a small village called Asker, and it is from this “intimate and cosy” location that true-voiced singer/songwriter, Siv Jackobsen hails. With a voice redolent of a Line Kasa/Julia Holter fusion, but an approach not dissimilar to that of Hanne Kolstø, Jackobsen’s songs are so startlingly honest, so emotionally stripped bare, that they send shivers up the spine.

Her songs, like those of Kolstø, tell intimate stories, tracts from musical diaries if you will, crafted with an intensity that crosses a myriad emotional spectra. Vocally, Jackobsen is capable of subtle acrobatics and pertinent nuances which artfully evoke the personal depth and density of her lyrics.  Instrumentally, her unfiltered, acoustic compositions, rendered for strings and immaculately arranged, are performed with confident ease.

Siv’s current batch of stark yet exquisite songs, “were created in her old 6×7 “bed with a door room in Brooklyn, NY.”  The tightness of the space within which they were created, resulted in an extremely intimate if slightly claustrophobic or suffocating feeling ; there is closeness, and then there is a back to the wall feeling leaving one totally exposed.  As Jakobsen lays bare pages from her own storybook, so too does she throw down the gauntlet to our own emotional Pandora’s boxes.  Lift the lid and …

“…ruthlessly emotive to the point it should come with a warning label.”  – The Line of Best Fit

Currently on tour supporting American Damien Jurado, Siv Jakobsen plays Whelans Live in Dublin, Friday 15th April, tickets here.  This is an intimate performance not to be missed … one so captivating it will be sure to quietly draw you into its emotive web, rendering you powerless to its magnetic charms.

Siv Jakobsen can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  Her last album, ‘The Lingering’ is available on iTunes as are her latest singles.

Single Review : Tina Refsnes ‘I Don’t Know’ is Simply Lovely

Tinapress2

Tina Refsnes has been a bit of a boomerang.  Leaving Oslo for that UK hub for emerging Euro musicians, Liverpool, where she honed her song writing skills, Refsnes found herself returning to back to the Norwegian capital, where fortuitously she finally found her musical muse in the form of Feist & Bahamas producer, Robbie Lackritz.

So inspired was she by Lackritz’s work, that she went to Canada to seek him out.  Lackritz, finding himself tracked down and cajoled into working with Refsnes, brought in trusted collaborator Eirik Stordrange, together with uber cool musos, Don Kerr and Mike O’Brien, and, over the course of three weeks in a Toronto studio, Refsnes album, ‘No One Knows’ was recorded.

I Don’t Know’ the lead track from the new album, which drops 6th November, is an unembellished folky/country song created using a tried and tested classic pop formula – catchy hook, pleasing melody, sweet harmonies and a good beat. Citing “English new-folk and poignant Americana” as her sound, and Neil Young and Laura Marling as some of her influences, it is easy to see how Refsnes has come to develop this quirky, country-folk-pop, laid back easy-listening vibe.

Refsnes is originally from the small picturesque coastal town of Floro, surrounded on one side by sea, and by mountains on the other.  She has taken her love for this picturesque tranquillity and teased it gently out into her relaxed, easy-feeling music.  Her vocal with its distinct Norwegian timbre is perfectly matched by the folky mellowness of cyclical acoustic guitar lines and soft-jazz brushed drums.

This is a sweet and uplifting song ,and the accompanying video has got the same unaffected organic quality that Refsnes has brought to her work – peaceful, unadorned, quirky, natural and above all, happy.  It is a simply shot film, for a simply lovely song.

‘I Don’t Know’ is out now via Vestkyst Records on iTunes: http://apple.co/1FYcX5X and Spotify: http://spoti.fi/1G2BUgg

The album “No One Knows That You’re Lost” available now  http://www.tinarefsnes.com

You can follow Tina on Twitter – here

Note** – This is the unedited version of the single review that appeared on Ja Ja Ja Nordic Mag on 10th November 2015.

Single Review : Benedict Benjamin isn’t as Thin Skin-ned as he thinks

Photo www.folkandhoney.co.uk-
Photo http://www.folkandhoney.co.uk-

Benedict Benjamin describes his musical style as “Reverby, dreamy, psychy, folky, rocky, country-y, harmony-y, 60s-y stuff” – well that gives him a lot of scope to diversify his sound then, hey!

With such a broad sweep across the musical spectrum as this, it is incumbent upon me to poke my nose into the new single ‘Thin Skin’ to establish within which one of these many genres his latest composition falls.  But first, you might like to know a bit more about the dude himself!

The artist formerly known as Ben Rubenstein comes from good musical indie-folk stock, having previously been a member of bands, The Mariner’s Children and Peggy Sue.  As these two bands fell asunder, Benjamin, double jobbing and experiencing a bit of personal strife, decided to utilise his extended waking hours, a result of an extended bout of insomnia, by writing songs.  One month later, he had written the bones of his forthcoming album, ‘Night Songs’ from which, ‘Thin Skin’ has been lifted as the lead track.

‘Thin Skin’ is a funky, catchy track with the indie sensibilities of demi-wonk guitar riffs crossing paths with folky acoustic guitar.  The guitar elements are joined up by slick bass playing and enthusiastic drums with plenty of indulgent high hat tambourine jangle.

Benedict Benjamin has quite a unique and disarming voice and his vocal on ‘Thin Skin’ is powerful enough to underscore the lyric but is also refreshingly pure and emotionally honest without the cringe.  It might seem an odd thing to say, but it is a really nice thing to listen to a sincere, clearly sung, well held, no fuss vocal.

Honesty seems to be the best policy lyrically; when discussing the background to the song, this is what the singer had to say:

“It’s specifically about me being a sensitive person that really appreciates and values honesty but who isn’t always able to muster a civilised response to the hearing of it. The song’s sort of an apology to those who’ve pointed out truths to me who I’ve made feel unwelcome.”

So after all that, which genre does ‘Thin Skin’ fall into … Funky-Indie-Folk is my verdict!!

‘Thin Skin’ is a heartfelt well written composition with an unfussy sound, that has been brought to life via an extremely well played instrumental and a clear distinctive vocal.  Subtle arrangement, and production with nous, have finished it off beautifully.  March 2016, and debut album, ‘Night Songs’, can’t come quick enough for this reviewer.

‘Thin Skin’ is taken from the upcoming album, ‘Night Songs’, due out March 25th 2016 on Sugarcoat Records.

Benedict is in the middle of a short promotional tour, playing several venues in the London area.  Details of remaining dates here, plus a link to his Facebook page, where you can follow him for more info on upcoming live dates and musical updates.

Tue 17th                 LONDON               The Borderline, Soho

Sun 22nd              LONDON               The Finsbury, Finsbury Park

Tue 24th                 LONDON               The Pickle Factory, Tower Hamlets

Sat 5th                     LONDON               The Slaughtered Lamb

https://www.facebook.com/benedictbenjaminsongs

Frøkedal’s ‘I See You’ is a “Book” of Musical Short Stories

Frokedal_I_See_You_EP
Photo by Julia Marie Naglestad

March 2015 saw the release of multi-talented, Norwegian Indie scene stalwart, Anne Lise Frøkedal’s single, ‘I See You’ – a nice country-oriented, chillaxed, acoustic song.  With its solid hooks, layers of especially lovely vocal harmonies, and some nice adept guitar playing, it was all very inviting.  So far, so good, so folk.

This live version with the wonderful violin playing is particularly good.

May 2015 – along came delightfully quirky ‘Surfers’, as full of humanity and personality as it’s video counterpart (Note the “Twin Peaks” tongue-cherry stem-knot tying trick at the beginning).  It was a stunningly performed song, with a lot of emotion underneath its wings, and a lyric that “describes feeling stuck and alone, trying to balance unfulfilled expectations with holding on to your dreams”. Anne Lise Frøkedal, you got that down pat girl!

October 2015 and oh my word, what a seismic shift there has been with the arrival of ‘First Friend’ and it’s tragi-eerie love story meets hammer horror video.  Gone is the wholesome acoustic folk sound, sidelined the good-natured indie.  In steps forbidden darkness.  Frøkedal’s voice has shifted from sweet n lite, to having a beautiful if haunting fragility. Gothic electronica with a brooding thrum, moody bass and some stark drumming create a foreboding atmosphere, and with its flashes of psychotic synth and electronic pulses & beats, ‘First Friend’ is a track that could sit comfortably on a Sundfor album.

It’s an eerily portentous track, the impending gloom of which is magnified by a rather disturbing video.  Intense and forlorn, it makes for both uncomfortable and heartbreaking listening/watching, as it conveys the self-consuming insecurities and self-doubts which society has brought upon itself, with its unquestionable acceptance of “disposable love”.

Taken individually one couldn’t be faulted for assuming these three songs were in fact by three different artists.  However, put in the context of the EP, ‘I See You’, they follow a logical journey.  Frøkedal has interconnected four* different tales and presented them using four different styles.  Combining honest folksiness, indie earthiness and dark electronic pop, she has created a fascinating and enticing collection of musical short stories.

Frøkedal’s ‘I See You’ EP is out now via Propeller Recordings.  Her new album is scheduled for release in 2016 (date tbc)

facebook.com/frokedalmusic | twitter.com/Frokedalmusic

frokedal.com | instagram.com/frokedalmusic

*The EP consists of Surfers, I See You, Silhouettes, and First Friend.  Silhouettes is not featured here.

EP Review : There Is Nothing Trying About Emilio Pinchi

EPinchi

A song usually catches my attention because of the beat, vibe, musicianship, vocal, genre, pre-requisite amount of sparkle etc.  Whatever the draw, it’s normally sound oriented.  What held my aural gaze in respect of Emilio Pinchi’s songs was the lyrics … direct, hard hitting, witty, sarcastic, and full off self-deprecation.

His song ‘Naps’ featured on the Fresh on the Net #FRESHFAVES recently, reviewed by ‘Mr Luvva Luvva Sunshine’, Johnno Casson, and here is some of what he had to say:-

“He (Emilio) sounds like an old soul in a young man’s body, and is no stranger to Fresh On The Net after making the Fresh Faves in December last year. Our own Tom Robinson described him thus: “You’d need a heart of stone to resist Emilio Pinchi’s fresh confessional lyrics and low-key throwaway delivery. It’s a beautiful, authentic performance that never sounds like it’s trying too hard, yet carries absolute conviction.” Couldn’t agree more, Tom.”

‘Naps’ is a cracker of a tune with a dry, bluntly vocalised serrated edged lyric. It has a lovely gentle sound which acts as a counterpoint to the sharpness of the words.  The lyrics are sung with telling inflection, while the music casually drifts along in the background with its catchy guitar chords and some light but natty percussion.

This young Liverpudlian guitarist and singer sure knows how to both pen and perform a song in the mould of Bob Dylan, and trust me, that name was cited more than once during the week this track featured on the #FOTN Listening Post!

“I’m taking naps in the day cos I can’t my nerve, and I can’t hold a drink any more, You’re telling me straight, coming up at the party, everyone starting at once, You can’t be this way.  Well evidently I can …”

This week sees the release of Pinchi’s debut 4-Track EP – ‘Trying Man’ – which has already created a buzz within the music media … Quite a bit of a buzz actually, and one louder than the buzzing of the fridge which comes through on the title track if you  listen hard enough!  Yep, this low key, low budget, top class track was recorded in Emilio’s kitchen of all places.  Which just goes to show that with an inspired mind, a lot of talent, a warm voice and a well tuned guitar, you can do as well, if not better than some that have the lavish surrounds of big budget studios at their disposal.

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Emilio Pinchi’s ‘Trying Man’ EP launches tomorrow evening in the Lantern, Liverpool Doors 7.30pm – be there or be square – details here.

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You can chase Pinchi’s coat tails around social media – FacebookSoundCloud Twitter

The Real Mc Coy

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I am blessed to have the friendship of Debs Mc Coy.  Ask anyone who knows her, and like me, they will tell you that she is one of the loveliest, gentlest, funniest and gorgeous people they know.  “A beautiful spirit”, I think is how one mutual friend recently put it.

I know Debs for a while now; we’re ‘Derbs’, the ‘twin-gal-pal, mad mod’ moderators forFresh on the Net‘, the ever expanding website resource for emerging artists, set up by Tom Robinson some years back, to run in tandem with his weekend gig at BBC6 Music.

One afternoon, during one of our regular #Dropbox conversations, we got to talking about Debs’ own music.  She happened to mention that both she and Jon Cox had reworked an Oli Arnalds track, ‘Only The Winds’, by weaving McCoy’s ‘Black Winged Taker’ composition through it. The result, as you will shortly attest to, is nothing short of stupendous.

I knew Debs’ work was good, VERY good, but it wasn’t until I came across this certain piece, that the enormity of her un-presuming talent began to dawn on me.  I now felt compelled to tunnel down through crust and mantle, until I reached the inner core of her work.

Yes, feeling sure I had only just scratched the surface, I took a lengthy meander through the works of this wonky tonk woman, a surreal stroll that left me stunned by the extensive diversity, and seemingly endless scope, of Debs’ portfolio.

Due to the voluminous size of  the McCoy musical library, it is impossible to showcase everything here, so I’ve selected a few varied samples of her work to reflect and indulge upon.

First things first though….just who is Debs McCoy?

Debs3

Debs is a Geordie lass and, as if that wasn’t enough (woah!), she is also an artist, photographer, poet/lyricist and multi-instrumentalist.  Jealous?  Too bloody right I am, aren’t you? No? Liars!

Debs obviously queued up more than once when the talents were being handed out.  So what does this uber talented, chatty mod have to say for herself? Take it away Debs….#armflourishthingy

“I started taking classical guitar lessons when I was 6, followed by piano a few years later, but I stopped playing both for a long period of time, as I felt that I was really struggling to marry my lyrics with the music I’d written. Funnily, I could successfully write poetry and instrumental pieces separately. Some years later, after a fractured period in my life, somehow both lyrics and music were easily coming together, in a way they hadn’t in the past, and I’ve continued to write music ever since.!”

Therapy Sessions 1

If you could put music to the endlessly bleak moors, the isolated loneliness, and the tragic sense of loss and despair in Wuthering Heights, Therapy Sessions 1, would be it.  I can imagine #TS1 as a musical backdrop to the scene in which Heathcliff is buried next to Cathy (the side of his and Cathy’s coffins removed so that they will forever lie together side by side).  With hints of a Scottish lament, it is a brooding, doleful, yet somewhat tender piece, given to intermittent bursts of uplifting, almost sparkling, piano sequences.

It opens with a low drone which pervades throughout, providing a tense, forbidding undercurrent, continuously murmuring underground.  Dark minimalist piano erratically dots a melancholic string sequence; it’s almost as if the piano is conveying a sense of someone having lost their way.  There is a feeling of confused desperation about it’s presence in this section, leading us awry amidst dusky shadows.  Even when the piano does lighten, it still doesn’t illuminate the way.  There is however, a subtle change in the soundscape, as the piano becomes suggestive of ripples of water.  Droplets of rain splish down onto a bubbling stream, a warm ray of light filters across the sky.  The mood fleetingly lifts, but too soon the clouds close over, and the lonely darkness once again falls.  We are covered in by a rising blanket of tormented strings, shadowed by skeletal bass piano, until that too fades into the grey, flat-lines, and slowly disappears into another world.

More about Debs!

“I studied Fine Art for 4 years at university then went on to do a post-grad for 3 years in Art Psychotherapy. I’ve always been fascinated with inner and outer experience; music and visual art bridges the gap between the two, tapping into the unconscious. Music helps me to make sense of my experiences and the world around me. If others can also find some connection and personal meaning from what I create then that’s lovely and a bonus.”

Revolver

When I was selecting tracks to feature here, I asked Debs to make some recommendations and the next piece – ‘Revolver’ – was one of her suggestions.

‘Revolver’ is exactly three and half minutes of rich, sumptuous musical velvet.  Utterly captivating, it is a luminous composition made up of intricately woven threads of strings and piano, in which a wondrously warm and mellow shot of single malt cello, counterpoints a looping Philip Glass-like crystalline pianissimo reverie.  The music envelopes the listener with it’s cyclical chord sequences, delightful as a spring morning, arousing as youthful love, spirited as a musical merry-go-round.  It is an exquisitely executed keyboard carousel – enchantingly hypnotic, hypnotically enchanting – exuding radiant hope.  It exemplifies the beauty within Debs’ soul; only the pure of heart, could compose something as innocent and beautiful as this.

It’s Debs again…(she is a chatterbox innit!)

”We’ve all got our own histories and experiences so different stuff taps into ‘us’ in a different way, sometimes with great immediacy.  It’s like when you go into a gallery and look at a painting you know nothing about, you just accept it for its aesthetics, and have an instant reaction to it, whether that’s positive or negative. BUT then if there’s a title to the painting, a little piece of text or, a little bit about the artist and how they came to make the work, it takes on a completely different meaning.

You can look at the most spectacular modernist painting, in the most beautifully vivid colours and think “wow, that’s a really skilled bit of painting”, even if it’s not really your bag.  Then you read that a 5 year old child painted it in 2 hours, and has produced hundreds of similar works, or a blind person has created it, or, someone who’s in prison – it turns everything on its head.”

Rose Madder

And by way of introduction to our next track…

“‘This is a Jon Cox rework/remix of my track ‘Rose Madder’ with Underworld’s ‘Capa Meets The Sun’ for USA record label Nuova Forma for a podcast he curated for them.”

When you hear a song as wondrous as this, with such vocal fragility, is there a need to say anything?  I think I’ll let this one sing for itself.

Magical…!  A sonic web has been spun!!

The Weight

My penultimate choice is another collaboration – this time with cellist Leah Coloff, who has played with such heavyweights as Damon Albarn and Nancy Sinatra!

‘The Weight’ in Debs’ speak is ” … improvised piano, guitar, and cello, with some other instruments (synth etc) … “

It has an eery intensity, an almost Gothic feel of Usherian restless spirits and “The Others” other worldliness.  This is music by which to read Poe (and spend the subsequent early hours awake because every creak terrifies you!).  Aside from #thedark , there is a cross continental sound to the string sequences of this song.  At times Russian, at times Spanish, but at all times Bohemian, gypsy even, the string arrangements (both guitar and cello), add an eclectic flavour to the plaintiveness of the piano arrangement.

This piece is the product of a perfect collaborative synchronicity and, I really do hope that Leah and Debs get together in the not so distant future, to create some more spectacular pieces of music. #hinthint

And so, to the piece of musical genius that brought us here….

Only The Winds // Black Winged Taker

There are very few times in life when you have what I call a ‘Radiohead’ moment – that moment when you hear a voice, a song, a piece of music and you just know, this is a titanic moment in your musical life.  Few artists have given me those shiver filled moments – obviously Thom Yorke with Radiohead has obliged, Mark Hollis likewise. Kate Bush was the first to hit a nerve, and has since been followed by the Manics, Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm, Dvorak and most recently, Cortney Tidwell (tbc!).  Few then, have roused such passionate emotion or violent reaction within, for my world to screech to a musical halt.

But, it happened again the other day.  Not with another big name, not with an high profile super group, legendary lyricist, or, even a toilet brush impresario.  Nope, it happened with Debs…which, to be honest, made it all the more stupefying.  And it happened when I played this final piece, which sprang into the music-verse when Debs Mc Coy, beautiful dreamer, took this divine instrumental by Olafur Arnalds, and along with Jon Cox, turned it on it’s head.

There really isn’t anything to say after that is there, so I’ll leave you with some final words from Debs….

“I once had a tutor at art school.  He made us make a three minute film, which we had to show to our fellow students, but, we were not allowed to say anything about it.  Nothing!  When we complained, he got really angry and said …

“…ART should speak for itself…it doesn’t need words”  “

You can learn more about Debs McCoy’s music via the following links:-

Bandcamp

Soundcloud

Twitter

You can find out about her collaborators here:-

Jon Cox

Leah Coloff

Olafur Arnalds