Since the release of her critically acclaimed debut album, Under Mountains in 2012, Rachel Sermanni seems to have spent most of the intervening months on the road in the USA, Canada, Europe and the UK. Yet somehow she still managed to find the time this summer to gather some friends together to record a new EP, The Boathouse Sessions, and it’s been well worth the wait.
As you might expect, Rachel’s voice is still front-and-centre, in equal parts powerful and gentle with an impressive range, and opening track Black Hole – already picking up airplay on national radio – clearly demonstrates her abilities. Over a strummed, loping rhythm, the lyric tells of the heady, wide-eyed early days of a relationship, while a muted trumpet and a string section build to a whirling peak. Maybe Not is a fast waltz with some gorgeous harmonies on the chorus, backed with a distant piano, while trumpet and strings add a wistful sense of a last dance in a deserted ballroom.
Despite its lyric about empty shelves and bare bulbs, the subject of Dear Granvil is not to be confused with David Jason’s TV sitcom character – it’s a bittersweet tale of parting although its tinkling percussion, which sounds like a distant shootout in a DIY store, does somehow manage to lend it an air of being set in an old-fashioned cornershop. Two Birds rounds out the EP with a quietly strummed waltz whose soaring harmony vocals shine while interweaving strings build to a crescendo.
The Boathouse Sessions is an accomplished record which highlights Rachel’s growing artistic maturity; its relaxed, spontaneous feel and deceptively complex arrangements mark it out as something to be played over and over. One for the long winter nights by the fire, and a worthy companion to Rachel’s back catalogue.
Review by: Helen Gregory
01 November All Hallows Church, Leeds
02 November Migvie Church, Migvie
04 November Horse Cross, Perth
13 November Conrad Sohm supporting Edwyn Collins, Dornirn
14 November Treibhaus supporting Edyn Collins, Innsbruck