Previewed in full among these very pages last week, and still available, if you haven’t yet delved in yet – I would urge you to do so, if that’s the case – the brilliant Hazel iris has just released her first full length record, and what a little belter it is. There have been many comparisons with Anna Calvi doing the rounds, and while Iris’s soundcapes are a whole lot less dark, they do at least share the same headspace, as evidenced from the outset with the glorious opener, ‘A Prince‘, which perhaps paints her as a more pensive version of Twickenham’s finest, sitting by the river to quietly contemplate the world and all its failings. There’s a lot of dreamy procrastination throughout Nine Sisters, in fact, whether it is whilst chilling at the coffee shop and fantasising about the guy behind the counter at the bagel shop, or staring out at the waves on ‘Bed‘. Often feeling like a woozy fairground ride, the accordian that breaks in here gives this track the aura of a sea shanty, the kind of thing that might have been performed by Mary Hopkin in her heyday.
Sometimes these ponderous instants are reminiscences of the past, at the same time both rueful and grateful, while at other junctures our protagonist is merely taking stock of the present situation, though all three of these trains of thought come together on Nine Sisters‘ impossibly pretty finale ‘Volcano‘. Those recurring, whirling ‘big top’ style musical meanderings are of great appeal, and are redolent of the classic theme tunes of a bygone era, normally for psychological thrillers – like a modern day version of Tales Of The Unexpected, if you will.
Before that though, there’s a whole lot to love and cherish here, Hazel’s appealingly light-headed vocals always juxtaposing perfectly with the beautifully arranged instrumentation, on the likes of ‘Shatter Me‘, a track that is heavy on chimes and mallets, which according to the writer herself is about a woman who “tried to hide her fragility with quiet sarcasm.” Whether this is meant to be based upon Iris’s own persona I am unsure, but whatever the story – and there seems to be a deep-rooted one here – one thing is for certain: Hazel Iris has created a remarkable piece of work which suggests her place in the limelight is not going to be long in coming.
The independently released Nine Sisters is out now.