Your Friend – Gumption (Domino)

There has been a lot of debate in recent times about the impact of streaming services on music, its effect on the way that music is consumed, and the artists remuneration for their work.  Gumption is an album that might suffer from the casual listener skimming through tracks on Spotify or Apple Music as on first exposure it comes across as somewhat slight and perhaps lacking the tunes to make people come back for repeated listens.

Your Friend is actually Kansas-based solo artist Taryn Miller, and in Gumption, she has released a debut album that is a real slow-burning delight. Investment of time in the record brings plentiful rewards, as the subtleties in the songs further emerge on each repeated listen.

‘Heathering’, the first track and single from the album, is a woozy delight as chorused guitars float by, perfectly underpinning Miller’s vocal which stylistically sits somewhere between SOAK and Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter. The song builds and builds before giving way to second track and second single ‘Come Back From It’, which is a fairly brave choice as a single, but then the album is hardly packed with potential 45s!

After the interlude of ‘To Live With’ comes the record’s densest track, ‘Desired Things’, which almost sounds like it was designed to shake off those casual ‘streamers’ mentioned earlier. It creeps along at a funereal pace and Miller’s voice is almost employed as an instrument in its own right, adding vocal textures more about feel than lyrical content.

The title track is probably the album’s most sprightly track, with a lovely acoustic guitar added to the heady mix of layered synths and percussion. Miller’s wonderfully pure voice is high in the mix throughout the album and really draws the listener in; it is a quite addictive set of tracks and is very coherent as a work – individual tracks would not really have the same impact divorced from the main body of the record.

The ghostly, percussion-free ‘Who Will I Be In The Morning’ draws the album to a close in a most effective way, bringing to mind some of the soundscape instrumental tracks of label-mates Flying Saucer Attack or maybe even Cocteau Twins‘ remarkable alliance with ambient pianist Harold Budd (on 1986’s The Moon and the Melodies). High praise indeed.

Give Gumption a few spins, or whatever the equivalent term is for streaming, and you too may fall under its spell.

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