Su Isabel Ferriera Shaw provides the woozy vocals behind the moniker Panda Su, a name which stuck after an ill encounter left her black eyed after a walk home through the park. Although before this, she states she found her own name Suzanne Shaw to be the name of a Dancing on Ice star, and too Animal Collective’s electronic, copy/paste side project Panda Bear to have nabbed her back up project name. In homage she also performs as a morphed human-girl-panda, painting her face for the occasion before each performance.
Hailing from Fife, her youth found her writing letters of adoration to fellow veteran folk artist King Creosote until she found herself playing the same bill at Homegame last year. From high-school music competitions to a now entirely self sufficient artist, having put out her debut EP Stick & Stones on her own label Peter Panda Records, designing the cover art herself, and playing and recording all musical efforts she’s set to follow it up with April 18th release I Begin.
A miniscule four-track but full of deep-bodied yet humbly produced sounds I Begin continues where Sticks & Stones left off. Panda Su takes ordinary subjects, skewing them into a rather unconventional light. Take ‘Alphabet Song’ which repeats and repeats the letters of the alphabet (“bodies move, regular beats, regular shapes”) in a rather hypnotising manner while soft acoustic guitar is picked in the background before minimal, ambient bleeping intermittently tap along like a metronome keeping time. It is not a Kimya Dawson effort you can be relieved to know.
Title track ‘I Begin’ is vocally reminiscent of Laura Veirs’ modern American folk, while colourful nostaligic imagery of hot air balloons and hill sides are narrated, tinkling along with xylophone accompaniment. While ‘Facts and Figures’ harbours a lilting pop sensibility, contemplative lyrics and a light hearted introvertion of “muddled thoughts and learning lots”.
A lovely little find.
Review by Melanie McGovern
Video: I Begin Preview Tour
Panda Su features in our ‘Lost in the Meadow‘ mix.
Amazon UK: I Begin