London-based Snowpoet’s eponymous debut album is an ethereal, psychedelic, and magical combination of lyrical, nature inspired poetry and modern innovative folk music. The mix of Lauren Kinsella’s unique poetic vocals and the looping enchanting backing and the band that includes talented multi-instrumentalist Chris Hyson is quite special. There are elements of Joanna Newsom and Bon Iver to be found here but Snowpoet’s sound remains distinctively theirs.
The album opens with Mermaid, previously released as single. The poetic lyrics start by describing a fish leaping out of the water but then move onto to consider the direction of humanity and the nature of change: “There seems to be some consensus that a change is coming/ Across the plains of time our worries will move into actions of some kind.” In the wrong hands this could come across as pretentious but the combination of the looping and spinning piano surrounding Kinsella’s searching, dream-like, multi-layered vocals is truly captivating.
In a Quiet Space continues in a similar vein as Kinsella’s whispered vocals invite us into a quiet space of the sound of gently running water and a soft combination of synthesizer bass and percussion.
Glad to have lost brings to the fore the theme of change and rebirth hinted at previously. Over a gently building bass line, Kinsella’s plaintive, vocals insist on being: “Glad to have lost what I fought for/ Focus on the new and feeling my way.” The lyrics and music become increasingly insistent until they break into a gentle piano solo accompanied by appears to be the sound of wind moving through trees. When Kinsella’s vocals reappear they are spoken and flat and the line “I think I appeared the same as ever,” suggests that we remain the same, however much our losses may appear to change us.
The theme of resilience through loss continues in If I Miss a Star. A light understated piano solo is accompanies Kinsella’s tender, fragile vocals describing the overcoming of loss: “If I miss a star/ There will always be more in the sky/ Fearlessly guiding.”
Just as the album appears to be becoming somewhat morose, the optimistic strummed guitar opening to Little Moon Man picks up the mood, while addressing similar themes. Kinsella’s vocals are bright and positive as she sings: “Taken by surprise/ On a journey realize/ It shall always be the same/ but in a changing way.”
After the instrumental Gathering, which features the sound of running water beneath shimmering plucked guitar, Waves opens with a looping acoustic solo reminiscent of waves lapping a shoreline. The rise and fall of the guitar is joined by quiet but increasingly frenetic percussion.
Eviternity, the closing song of the album, begins with jazz piano and percussion which are accompanied by Kinsella’s stark, spoken existential poetry before becoming lost in a haze of distortion. This opens into a repetitive synthesizer loop accompanied by warm harmonized backing vocals before tailing off with gently fading out distorted synthesizers. It is the perfect end to this bewitching and intriguing album that is likely to beguile many of those fortunate enough to hear it.
Review by: Alfred Archer
Out Now via Two Rivers Records
Order via Amazon
Friday 29 January – St Pancras Old Church, London, UK