Jo Hamilton - Gown
Coffee sipping ambience is poured out with independence, rustic and rumbling percussion on top of searching subtlety by Jo Hamilton. Who weaves together her well-travelled musings, lending a worldly folk feel to her music. Being trained in classical viola simply fuels her instrumental broadness. However, most noticeably in opener ‘Exist (Beyond My Wildest Dreams)' , it's a soothing almost oceanic choral element that mingles with rubbing percussion and a slow rising melting guitar cacophony, immediately drawing you into her meditative psyche.
Almost Múm style, mildly eerie ambience mingles into well profiled, throbbing percussion and the ranging vocals of Hamilton glides from soulfully masterful, ‘Pick Me Up' to slow and calming to compliment the floating string arrangements of ‘There It Is'. This song also bears out the Hamilton's ability to draw out positive vibes, due to her hearty echo and ability to suddenly lift up a song. Especially when it seems like it's heading into a sombre and reflective alley. For all the moulding of various string and percussion instruments and well timed choral backing, it is difficult upon first listen to garner full appreciation of the lyrical direction. ‘Deeper (Glorious)', makes you take notice of the life and self delving nature of this element;
"We're getting deeper and deeper into a place called home,
No turning back now the seed's already sown."
The brooding delivery of Hamilton and some slower booming percussion sets out a tone for the sombre delivery, helping draw out the poetic nature of the lyrics. However, just when you think that a slow descent is being made into a pit of melancholy, our Jo springs to life aided by a mildly bounding arrangement and the hypnotic utterance of the word ‘glorious'. Vast instrumental foraging that often starts off low-key, brings to mind the impact Four Tet would probably make, after breaking into a rehearsal room at the Royal Northern College of Music. Cosmopolitan ambience seeps out of ‘Paradise', lending for some deep mid-album meditation.
Already, given the way that this album builds, it's possible to foresee a slight problem in broadening the appeal of this delving artist. In the sense that each track builds on and compliments feelings set out in tracks before it, making it difficult for radio stations or single driven people to get a true idea of what this foraging songstress is all about. The greatest shame of it all is that Terry Wogan would have eaten this music for breakfast and, even requested seconds. Although, in her favour on the radio is issue is the slight Bjork, string buzzed ‘All In Adoration'. With its wandering instrumental and a pleading touch of soul gives it body and heart. It's the one song that stands out in its own right.
Most tracks pass the four minute mark with ease and the vast instrumental exploration on display means that this task is in no way laboured. Often harnessing the tug of a seeping ambient opening and keeping her vocals at an echoing pedestrian pace, aids the tune-crafting process. A fine example of this skill is illustrated out in the slow tilting ‘Mekong Song'.
‘Gown' could well become the blueprint for the progression of folk and it sets quite a standard.
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