Miss Siena Jones is a tired woman; the bright city lights she once dreamed would blanket her night sky had deceived her. They left her with a bitter taste in her mouth, and so jaded and discouraged, she packed her big city dreams and moved away to a place called serenity. Once treading on glass ceilings and boardroom bureaucracy, she now works at the local grocers, splitting her time between cash registers and the typewriter she hopes will someday share her story.
On lazy Sundays when the only thing that seems to move are hands on a clock, she spends the afternoon tucked away, eyes closed with this Paul Brill CD in her stereo. She has a million stories in her head; tales of debauchery, scandal and laughter synonymous with her previous life. But when she’s alone on these Sundays, there is a certain calming. The voice that escapes her speakers does her soul wonders. The serenade of Brill’s voice layered on top of the somber guitar work of tracks like “Basement Song” and “Whiskey Gone” lets her bask in the serenity she craves. The piano filled “Hazel Eyes” is like a falling leaf outside her door; comfortable, simple, but filled layers of instrumental luminosity and depth. It is this simplicity that has turned her life around – like Paul Brill himself, who on this EP has taken a more minimalist approach. From the multi-member milkweed band that adorned his Halve the Light album, Sisters features just four musicians. The results have been magnificent; in simple beauty the music has become even more serene, somber and comforting.
For Siena Jones, the music of Paul Brill has given her solace in her time of need. The old station wagon that made the trip with her sits comfortably in her driveway but seems to have found its final resting place. The post country heartache that permeates from this record has found its way into Siena’s heart. She knows that while she no longer revels in the bright lights, she can close her eyes on a Sunday afternoon and let this heartfelt record bring a smile to her face.
(Scarlet Shame Records)
Hatchie – Keepsake
Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars
Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.
There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.
However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.
The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.