Harpist extraordinaire Serafina Steer has featured in the Folk Radio UK playlist since 2010 and her footsteps have crossed with many others we’ve featured including Olivia Chaney and The Memory Band’s Stephen Cracknell. She joined them on their Balearic Folk Orchestra project when they transformed classic acid house tunes and balearic beats into addictive acoustic tunes. Her inventiveness has always been clear but this latest release is really something else!
On her third and latest release ‘The Moths are Real‘ Jarvis Cocker steps into the production shoes, something he will certainly not regret. His hand in this release is by no means obvious other than featuring on backing vocals to ‘The Removal Man‘, a stripped down track featuring pulsing church organ, a quirky song with lyrics that linger long after…
“many times I’ve wished you well, I’ve wished you well,
now when I hear your name I think of hell, I think of hell,
you hate my friends yet you fantasise about them as well”
The album’s appeal is as much its musical inventiveness and eccentricity that go hand in hand with the lyrics. Vivid, dark, bright and playful, filled with surprises, simply constructed yet far catchier than the over-grilled music of this post-production-era. Lyrically this album shines brighter than any I’ve heard in some time: ‘Disco Compilation‘ is an unexpected survival song for broken hearts built on merging dance beats and genre hops interrupted by revelations that uncover a night time world of broken hearts:
“of course my scanty life philosophy you suspected all along is actually based on lines from songs, but they are with me, when you’re gone I shall put on a disco compilation CD from an old friend and let the music wrap it’s long arms around me…because it is, I remember it is a night time world where everyone is a broken hearted stranger”
Her scanty life philosophy is addictive, by the end of this album you will have collected lyrics in your head that hooked you throughout beckoning you back for another listen…Ballad of Brick Lane hits you after the peaceful opening harp and field recording of the street in question…
“I don’t know why I’m heading to Brick Lane, I hate it there like everybody does, I haven’t been there for ages…”
The breadth of The Moths are Real is truly panoramic from the sweeping orchestral like harp opening for ‘Alien Invasion‘ which summons a psychedelic tale of willed abduction by “big yet benign blue creatures with extraordinary unfinished features” to the summer filled ‘Skinny Dipping‘ a song of the young and innocent. Serafina Steer’s narration of her tales is sublime, there is no rush to escape from one track to the next…wallow in them and explore!
Musically the album is pared-back, simple yet complex…the brilliance is clear from the start. Cocker must be pleased to have got production duty on this release…who wouldn’t? The credentials on this release lift Serafina Steer into the limelight where she rightfully belongs, 2013 is her year!