Brighton-based Kate Gerrard, otherwise known as The Delta Bell, has built a following for live work around her local area, London and as far afield as Berlin. She attracted further attention with the 2014 release of her debut single Wasted, which earned favourable coverage including a four-star review from the German edition of Rolling Stone magazine. More than a year on, Kate has delivered her first full-length album Bow out of the Fading Light, a collection of eleven self-penned songs exploring aspects of love, loss, destruction and redemption.
In both style and sentiment, the almost hymn-like recent single Carry Us Home is a country gospel song, with its repeated refrain of ‘The light will carry us over/the tide will carry us home’ and an all female trio providing backing vocals like a small choir. Joe Watson, who appears in several roles on the album, provides an atmospheric, church organ-like harmonium while Kate sings of deep turgid water and living in fear. On Phosphorus she mourns a lost love over a gentle hypnotic guitar, resonating heartbeat drum and Mark Jesson’s cello, creating evocative similes from the ocean: ‘…like pools of light under the sea, great waves roll over us…’
Andrew Blake’s pedal steel guitar’s first of two appearances adds to the country sound of Wasted, another look at a failed relationship. But this time, Kate takes charge to rid herself of the man she met when they were both too young and foolish, advising him not to call a taxi but just take the car. It’s not difficult to hear why the song’s release as a single earned critical praise and its inclusion here will be welcomed by many.
Forever Yours takes us back to the early sixties’ era of Shangri-Las style girl pop, with its shimmering guitars and sha-la-la backing vocals. While it may be stylistically separated from the rest of the collection and has a comparatively upbeat lyric, the song remains connected through a melody played on a lone violin, rather than the massed strings that accompanied some of the hits of fifty years ago. As if to make a point, the next song is titled Strings but it is a sad tale of the loss of a truly loved one or ‘the strings of my soul’.
Kate’s vocal takes a slightly transatlantic turn for I’ve Seen the Way, the second country-inflected track, which also sees the return of the pedal steel but by the time that Lay Him Down is reached, she has become a kind of alt-country Goth singer. Alistair Strachan adds a rich flugelhorn part to Churches, a gorgeous observation on loneliness during the early hours, before the album ends with the smoky-voiced Until the Night, a slowish number with cello and organ joining Kate’s finely picked guitar.
While there are some country influences at play here, this record is not fashioned in a Nashville, Tennessee manner but rather Kate’s own Brighton-by-the-sea approach, as is heard in the Englishness of her singing and sometimes watery themes. With strong material that moves effortlessly between folk goth, gospel and Beautiful South-like pop, Bow out of the Fading Light hooks the listener more with each play. A finely crafted, well-rounded album that shows that she won’t be bowing out for some time.
Review by: Roy Spencer
Bow out of the Fading Light is Out Now via At The Helm
Order via Amazon