Category Archives: Record Club

Record Club: Sophie Jamieson- Where

One of my favourite things about blogging, is watching young artists grow and develop. You see their sound change, their marketing become more professional, and their output more confident. You watch nervously as they begin to release material, play larger gigs, and you wait in hope that the rest of the world loves them as much as you do. I’ve been watching Sophie Jamieson for a while, and I can already see her blossoming as an artist. She’s at the very beginning of her career. As a constant gigger on the London live scene, she has quickly attracted attention and has propelled herself up and beyond the haze of other London based singer-songwriters.

At the beginning of the year she announced her signing to Folkroom Records, a small and intimate label based in London. It was one of their Anthologies where I first heard the voice of Sophie Jamieson, on her rather divine track ‘Dinah’. It’s fair to say it was love at first listen. Her shy voice floated across the silvery guitar and string arrangement. The track, still one of my favourites, blossomed from a simple folk song to something which pulled on heartstrings and shook every bone in my body. Since then I’ve been waiting patiently for the release of her debut EP,  and it’s fair to say that ‘Where’ has exceeded any expectations I had.

Beginning with ‘Waterloo’, a track which is also her first single, you can already hear the increase in confidence in her. The shimmering guitars and stomping drum perfectly contrast with her tender voice. It’s a voice which is difficult to compare to any other artist. Both deep and rich in places, and breathless and whispery in others. It has a timid quality but it’s shakiness is what makes it so rare, honest, and perfectly reflect the lyrics of her songs. On ‘The Weight Comes’, she warbles ‘You Couldn’t Carry my Weight // You’d Feel the Ache’. The track which is quite repetitive in melody, makes up for it in the intenseness of the lyrics, you listen and yearn onto every word.

‘I Don’t’, arguably the most experimental track on the EP, winds it’s way through string arrangements, drum pounds and sparse guitar parts. It’s her voice which shines through on this track, it’s strength contrasting with the sadness of the lyrics. The final track was instantly my favourite. ‘Ode to the East’ has a quality about it which I cannot describe. Maybe I love this track on more of a personal level, as the lyrics resonate deep inside of me, but I doubt anyone can not be blown away by the opening of strings, the delicacy of her voice and the mystery of the words. The atmosphere she has created through this song goes straight to the heart, it creates it’s own world, and perfectly rounds off this small offering from Sophie Jamieson.

It’s an offering which only leaves you wanting more, an offering to be cherished, and one which provides the perfect introduction to her music. I look forward to watching her grow, her sound develop and her becoming more and more accomplished as a songwriter. This is only the beginning for Sophie Jamieson, but what an incredible beginning it is. She’s set herself up for great things.

‘Where’ is released today via Folkroom Records. You can buy it from iTunes or Bandcamp where it is also available in physical format. On Wednesday Sophie will play The Slaughtered Lamb in London, you can buy tickets here.


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Record Club: Laura Marling- Once I Was An Eagle

It was over 5 years ago that an 18 year old Laura Marling released her debut album, Alas I Cannot Swim. At the time of it’s release the phrase ‘wise beyond her years’ was thrown around quite a lot, a little too much. Produced by Noah and the Whale’s Charlie Fink, the record made Marling one of the youngest people to ever be nominated for the Mercury Prize. Since then we’ve had two more records, 2009’s I Speak Because I Can and 2011’s A Creature I Don’t Know. Each record sees an obvious growth in Marling, lyrically but particularly melodically. After the introduction of some jazz themes on her last record, which sounded like a nod to Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark, I wondered if she would continue this theme on further records. However, instead what we have got is a quietly beautiful, introspective and honest attempt.

Yesterday, a 23 year old Marling saw the release of her forth record, Once I Was An Eagle. It’s instrumentally her simplest record, yet the themes which stretch through the 16-tracks make for a deep and often intense listen. There is a sense running through this record that she has gone back to basics. Or maybe she’s grown more and more into herself. Creature was a very assured record, maybe too much so. Once I Was An Eagle feels fragile and timid, yet it also sounds like she’s aware of that. The Americana influences come through, yet unlike Creature, this doesn’t sound like a Joni record, this sounds like her own. It feels almost like she has found her home, her resting place.

A couple of places on the record sound likes she’s trying the please the label, the only ‘single’ of the record is the rousing ‘Master Hunter’, which grows in sound rather like pretty much any Mumford song ever. However, it’s the places where she limits herself and where the instrumentation is minimal that the true beauty of this record truly shines through. Places like the 6 minute long ‘Little Love Caster’, the lazy Americana sounds of ‘Once’ and the 4 track melody which opens the record.

It’s fair to say that this is my favorite Marling record yet (but didn’t I say this about all of them?). I would think it would also result in her third Mercury nomination. You can buy Once I Was An Eagle through her online store in various formats.


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Record Club: Emma Louise – VS Head VS Heart

Anyone who has heard this album is probably not surprised that I really like it. It’s got a number of musical aspects which I regularly write about. Heavenly vocals, ethereal  minimal electronics and subtle but brilliant songwriting. The whole record is soft and understated, the production is outstanding, it feels like a complete body of work which I love in a record and feel is very important. You can tell that the whole thing has been incredibly well crafted, time has been taken with every sound, every beat, every lyric.

Emma Louise has been on my radar for a while now, her track ‘Jungle‘ caught a lot of attention, but surprisingly, and maybe quite sensibly, she’s chosen to miss it off the album. Instead replacing it for tracks like ‘Atlas Eyes’, ‘Boy’ and ‘Freedom’, which still contain that pop sensibility in the songwriting, but also fit in with the calm, dreamy texture of the rest of the record.

The overall emotion of the record manages to be sad and reflective while also remaining light and beautiful. Ballad ‘Stainache’ is one of the highlights, while tracks like opener ’17 Hours’, ‘Braces’ and ‘To Keep Me Warm’ add to the overall shape of the record. It feels so whole, so well thought through, which is something I often feel is missing from modern records.

This may just be my favourite record of the year so far, it’s certainly the only one I have played repeatedly.

The record is released on 22nd March in Australia and I have no idea when it is released in the UK, but I shall be getting a copy shipping over from down under. You can order a physical copy here, and for those of you lucky enough to be in sunny Australia, it is also available on iTunes.

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Record Club: Rhye- Woman

When I first heard the track ‘Open’ by Rhye, I think I fell a little in love. The lush strings which open the track make way for the sexy, smooth and helplessly gorgeous song, and with every new verse, I continue to melt. Could they ever top that song? Could they make an album full of songs as great as ‘Open’, and also the incredible second single ‘The Fall’? Well, no they haven’t, ‘Open’ and ‘The Fall’, which are the first two tracks on the record are also the best two, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a good album.

The rest of the Rhye record takes on more of an electronic-pop sound. The songs are still gorgeous and catchy, but just not quite as head-over-heels gorgeous as ‘Open’. ‘Last Dance’ and ‘3 Days’ are particularly single worthy, while some of the other tracks add an artistic edge. ‘One of those Summer Days’ sounds as dreamy and lazy as a hot summer day. The experimental jazz-like instrumentation is subtle and strange but gives the track that perfect mood which the lyrics describe. ‘Major Minor Love’ shows off Milosh’s vocal tones, while final track ‘Woman’ heads back to the orchestral realms of ‘Open’ and is probably my favourite track after the first two.

This record is not the commercial, pop record you might have expected from the hype around Rhye, but it’s completely original and understated. It’s also definitely a grower, so give it the time it deserves.

Woman is out now, you can buy it from iTunes or Rough Trade.

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Record Club: Laura Mvula- Sing to the Moon

I first saw Laura Mvula at Camden Crawl in May 2012 (see my review here). I had no idea who she was and I don’t think anyone else in the room did either. But she blew me away. She was shy, endearing, and clearly unaware of her massive talent. At the end of the show I asked her what her name was and wrote in my phone ‘Laura Muvula’. When I looked for her online presence I found nothing at all, not even anything on the ATC management website, and it was their showcase she played at.

Some months later, she appeared again. With a song called ‘She‘ which I must admit I didn’t really take to at first. Then it all started happening pretty quick for her, bloggers loved it and she was nominated for the Brits Critic Choice award. A few months after that we have now got her full length debut, Sing to the Moon.

And oh boy what a debut. Sing to the Moon is everything you want in a first record; confident, unique and a showcase of an incredible new talent. From the opening lines of ‘Like the Morning Dew’ you feel like you have entered a brand new sound world. Sitting somewhere between Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, Nina Simone and traditional gospel music, Laura Mvula’s songwriting is catchy and effortless. She is clearly an incredibly naturally gifted writer, and this shines through particularly in the arrangements of the music. The strange us of an almost brass band lead orchestra works incredibly well, and adds to the albums feel of ‘this is something that has never been done before’.

I could go through every track on this record, but every single one is as brilliant as the next. My personal favourite is current single ‘Green Garden’, which is guaranteed to be one of the anthems of this summer. Title track ‘Sing to the Moon’ is also rather special.

Laura Mvula has made the first great album of the year, don’t pass her off as another Rumer or Duffy, she’s got a lot more to her. Like this record, her talent is layered and intricate, and must be listened to to be appreciated. As someone wrote on twitter, ‘Can I live in the Laura Mvula record?’

Sing to the Moon is released today, and you can purchase it from iTunes or Rough Trade.

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Record Club: Marika Hackman- That Iron Taste

I’ve given lots of hints on this blog and also in my Twitter feed that I really, really like this record. Now it is time to declare my full love for the mini album, ‘That Iron Taste’ is probably my favourite record of the year so far. Marika Hackman was one of my Ones to Watch for 2013, and unfortunately failed to make it onto many other peoples lists. However, I was adamant that she was something very special and with the release of this EP, I would like to think that I was right.

The record at only 7 tracks long, is a taster of Marika’s talents. Produced part by Charlie Andrew (Alt-J) and part by Johnny Flynn, she’s been in good hands in the making. The production is exquisite and shows how interesting you can make singer-songwriters sound if you put a bit of effort in. It seems like every single female singer-songwriter out there is compared to Laura Marling, and I am pleased to say that you can’t do that with Marika Hackman, her sound is her own.

Opening track Bath is Black sets the tone for what is not a conventional record. The unusual percussive sounds contrast wonderfully with Marika’s mellow voice. Mountain Spires and You Come Down have previously been released as a 7″ single, and these are the two tracks produced by Johnny Flynn and so naturally are more folky in there composition but still encompass that signature songwriting of Marika, both dark, dreary and quirky in it’s own way.

Cannibal is the highlight of the record, it’s the best written song and least obscure sounding. If you hear any of this on the radio, it’s likely to be this song. I do have a secret love for Retina Television though, which was recorded completely using sounds of Marika’s voice and body. It sounds like nothing else you’ve ever heard and the beauty of the song adds a softness to the record, which in places has a industrial sounding edge.

This is an interesting, exciting and daring record from such a young singer songwriter. It shows incredible natural creativity and talent and I am very intrigued to see what she will do next.

‘That Iron Taste’ is released today on Dirty Hit, click here to download if from iTunes.

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Record Club: Adam Green and Binki Shapiro

Binki Shapiro (Little Joy) and Adam Green have teamed up for a rather charming collaboration. The record is filled with catchy, classic songwriting, resonating Serge Gainsbourg and Dusty Springfield. Both have unique voices but they blend wonderfully. If you were a fan of the (amazing) Little Joy record a few years ago you may like this, although it doesn’t include all those wonderful Spanish influences.

You can currently stream the whole record over on The Guardian or purchase it from Rough Trade.

Favourite Tracks:  Just to Make You Feel Good, If You Want Me To, Pleasentries.

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