Stuck on You  –  Kylie Spence (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

thumbnailDrawing the most emotion out of the most transient of sounds is an art in itself, but it is something that Kylie Spence, even at 17, is an expert at. Most people just starting out down such an indie-pop route are all too eager to make themselves heard by throwing everything they have, every sonic trick, ever studio gimmick at their song in an effort to stand out above the background noise of the modern music industry. In a move that belies her age, Spence goes the other way and delivers a song that is so smoke like, so dreamlike and drifting, emotive and intimate that you notice it for exactly the opposite reasons.

She is also not afraid to share the limelight and what stands this already beguiling track in ever higher stead is the blend of voices as the song relieves itself to be a duet, the overall affect being akin to Lisa Hannigan when she used to trade such vocals with Damien Rice and personally there aren’t many higher accolades.

With an EP on its way in about a months time, I feel truly excited to hear what else she has in her musical arsenal as, on the strength of this glorious single, she is an artist I will be paying close attention to.

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Arrow – Ciara O’Neill (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

aWA2ihNr_400x400With her previous album being well received amongst critics and buyers alike and the double single of Hurtin’ /Dreamer already hinting at the delicate folk goodness that her second full album was going to deliver, Arrow’s promotional work had largely already been done for it. Definitely a case of a product being able to sell itself. Ciara O’Neill trades in timeless, noirish and understated folk sounds and vocals with just enough of a Celtic echo to place her geographically but working in the shifting and slightly genre-less musical waters that eschews tradition and rules in favour of exploration and emotion.

Using striking and brooding cellos, and haunting violins to punctuate the core sound of rhythmic guitars and her outstanding vocals, it is an album which is less about solid structures and standard progressions and more about music which floats and moves about on the breeze. Storms Comin’ takes this idea into more minimalist country territory with its twanging guitar, dark vibes and lilting drive, Equal and Opposite is built on the same transience and emptiness as the music of fellow Irish artist Damien Rice and Everything is almost a pop ballad in its accessibility and commercial potential.

She follows in the traditions of hosts of names who have combined elusive and compelling music with the ability to penetrate the mainstream, The Civil Wars, Lisa Hannigan, Glen Hansard and the dear departed Eliot Smith and there is no reason not to think that Arrow will easily find a chink in the armour of the narrow minded record executives and media money men who profess to know exactly what the punters want. Arrow is exactly what the more discerning punters want, it is just that they may not yet know it is what they want. Believe me it is.

Antler – Eleanor Dillon (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a1941878839_16Occasionally you come across an emerging artist and some aspect of their music stops you in your tracks, makes you wonder why they haven’t been immediately snapped up by an agency or record label to be honed for greater things. Hearing Eleanor Dillon’s voice for the first time was just one of those moments. Employing some confident and dexterous guitar lines and a firm grasp of the art of song writing that any artist would kill to have in their repertoire, it is a sign of just how striking her voice is to say that all of that seems to fade into the background once the voice kicks in.

It is a voice that seems familiar (with maybe a touch of Dolores O’Riordan’s vocal cadence being an obvious touchstone) but at the same time fresh and of the moment; timeless, traditional and still contemporary yet not beholden to the pressure of current fad or fashion. I have to say it is wonderful to stumble across a young female singer who isn’t queuing up to be the next Ellie Goulding.

Leaning heavily on the seventies folk revival sound she manages to channel the purity of the likes of Sandy Denny or Carole King and in doing so goes to places that other, current acoustic artists don’t even get close to. Not for her the usual twee and obvious girl with a guitar compromises, no playing of the age card, instead a collection of strong narratives, introspective thoughts and a voice that is nothing short of extraordinary. On the strength of this first collection of songs, you don’t have to have a crystal ball to see that before long she will be joining the likes of Lisa Hannigan and Eddi Front in the lead ranks of the new female folk movement.

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