“I’m at an age where some of my female friends wonder, ‘When will he propose to me? What is he thinking?’” said Glasgow’s Siobhan Wilson when taking about ‘Marry Me‘, the first single from her new album, The Departure, “and I wrote a song that’s like: you propose to him, you are allowed to do that now.”
This was a song that hit upon the subject of female empowerment in today’s society, and over the course of eleven songs here, the theme – and, more specifically, that of identity – is further explored, often to astonishing effect.
The Departure‘s opening, self titled track is delicately alluring and almost choral in its wintry lean. It could almost have sat comfortably on Kate Bush‘s 50 Words For Snow, except that, for my money, it, and practically everything else on this album, usurps anything that was on Bexleyheath’s finest’s most recent studio long player.
‘Marry You‘ is a more electrically charged affair, its spiky minor chord guitar chimes reminiscent of My Vitriol circa Finelines, but even now, just two tracks in, Wilson’s voice has wrapped itself around you like a boa constrictor, her tones often so sensual that her music would surely have been banned if she had existed in 1969, especially on the French language ‘Ne Dis Rien‘ (‘Do Not Say Anything‘). Wilson makes a great case for the argument that it’s what you leave out, rather than what you put in, that makes or breaks a song; this after all is quite spectacular in its minimalism, and even the Honeyblood featuring ‘Unconquerable‘, which follows, begins as a skeletal affair but rumbles like a freight train towards its conclusion, rallying against the unreasonable expectations placed upon women by the likes of the media and the peer pressure which results from it, and you’re mightily glad you clung on for the ride.
The words ‘expansive’ and ‘captivating’ have already been bandied about an awful lot by other reviewers, but it’s not without good reason, for Wilson encapsulated those two words so perfectly, but she also possesses a whole lot more depth than most of her contemporaries right now, as clearly evinced by the utterly spellbinding, dreamlike ‘Little Hawk‘, which feels like you’re sitting at a cliff’s edge anticipating a thunderstorm, taking your mind well away from whatever anxieties you may be suffering right now, and putting you in a different world entirely. The beautiful finger-picked ‘Stars Are Nonzero‘ continues your illusory journey, a soul caressing number that wouldn’t sound out of place in the early 1950s, yet, in her hands, is anything but twee.
A quite remarkable album, all told.
The Departure is out now on Suffering Fools Records.