Bury St Edmunds isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of DIY punk aesthetic, but that’s just where once punk, now folk singer/songwriter Shannon Hope honed her trade and developed her talents as a musician. Now, eschewing the aggression of her former bands, Hope releases her self-titled début solo EP.
The Shannon Hope EP fuses together the urgency of punk and the DIY aesthetic harboured by hardcore enthusiasts with delicate, ephemeral vocals and stripped down acoustic guitar, creating something truly beautiful but lacking no less punch than her previous endeavours. The EP begins ‘A Part of Me’ which sets the tone of the rest record fantastically. Hope’s vocals float effortlessly above the track. The lyrics depict the intoxicating moments of a relationship when you first realise you’re falling in love. Some might consider the lyrics cliché, I for one consider them candid and open. The guitar acts merely as an accompaniment to Hope’s vocal track here but both are understated and gentle, playing off each other excellently. In contrast, track two ‘I Could Do Without This’ is an exhibition of the frustration that relationship can cause and upholds a darker, moodier sensibility.
‘Life’s Memorabilia’ is a more upbeat affair, drawing on the nostalgia we all have for our youth. This track sees Hope sounding particularly like an early Kate Nash, although an obvious comparison the picked guitar that gently builds towards the climax is particularly derivative, which isn’t always a bad thing. Track four ‘Any Road’ is the longest track on the album, and finds Hope’s vocals breathy and whispy during the verses, while stronger and more confident throughout the chorus. This dynamic works in the songs favour, drawing particular attention to the chorus which packs more impact than most of the tracks featured, no mean feat, believe me. The guitar in ‘Any Road’ is also probably the
strongest thus far, and compliments the vocal track excellently, mirroring Hope’s frustrations and building anger until the song reaches it’s impactive climax. ‘Block You Out’ is perhaps the most accessible and radio-friendly song featured across the course of the EP and is jangly and catchy and is a true slice of pop perfection. Musically the song would be right at home on a Frank Turner, but Hope’s vocals once again make the track completely her own.
Final track ‘Time Goes Too Fast’ is also the shortest track on the album and sounds somewhat similar to French singer/songwriter Soco, only less transient or fleeting. Granted the song is over in less than a minute and a half, but it closes a recorded that really is quite phenomenal given it’s Shannon Hope’s first solo effort. Over the course of the 18 minutes this album never really breaks the mould established in the opening track. But when something is this delicate; this beautiful; it really isn’t a problem.
The Shannon Hope EP might well have it’s detractors, those who consider it too twee or even too much of a departure from Hope’s earlier works, but those people are missing out an album that is as quaint as is impactive. Emotional and times tongue in cheek, anyone who hasn’t fallen in love with Shannon Hope by the end of her début should check their pulses. This is as close to perfect as a singer/songwriter can get.