Jenny Gillespie – Chamma review

JGCOVERFolk – like you’ve never heard it before. Recorded with the extensive assistance of her iPhone throughout the ideas stage, Jenny Gilespie’s upcoming full length release, out via Narooma Records on October 27th, classes itself as something I’d previously not heard of; “electro-folk”. With all the crossings of genres that occur nowadays, it’s no create surprise that this exists, but it did come as a surprise that it’s pulled off quite so elegantly. From recording snippets of conversations and generally worldly noises on her phone, to London engineer Steve Cooper adding an orchestral backbone, the album has had an eclectic range of influences, all blended together.

It’s a bizarre thing to say, but the album artwork (pictured) matches the music perfectly; a simple and faded backing with a lashed out and eclectic design to bring the brightness into it, whilst retaining the slightly acid-wash hint in it. Each of the nine tracks is crafted with impressive attention to detail, with the lyric booklet that accompanies the CD boasting a variety of imagery in the style of collages. This booklet also holds a list of credits, detailing every instrument featured on the record (over twenty five) – several of which I’ve honestly never heard of (kalimba, marimba, Weissenborn) – and the nine respective instrumentalists.

The alternate layers of vocals in Holi create a fragmented and moulded sound to the album, and if it weren’t for the subtly surprising change to a more electronic sound that prevails in Dirty Gold Parasol, you’d be left thinking this was an album only designed to be listened to in its entirety. Metaphors clash with stark observation, with “the branches nod like old stallions”, contrasting with “grade school love notes / in the barbed wire”, to created both abstract and grounded lyricism.

Although at moments the vocals edge on flat, the choppier style that prevails in Dragon Mother adds life to the sound, but abruptly closes. At over five minutes, slow-dance worthy Epiphanee makes it as one of the longest off the record, drifting through the sound as though carried by the wind – a concept I doubt is accidental. The album continues to muddle its way through with the echoed and fuzzy vocals of Lift The Collar alternating their prominence with a powerful bass, before an almost acapella take is added to the title track.

Evil Eye commences as a simplistic acoustic track, and half way through makes a move for the eccentric – despite this change, a feeling remains throughout that it would work as backing music for a woodland film scene, possessing all the intricacies and inconsistent minor detail that come with nature. Child Of The Universe makes it as my personal favourite off the record for no definable reason – it feels too simplistic to simply say I like it most, but it holds a certain unique poetic elegance. The album comes to a close with the Makr remix of Holidays, which gradually ropes in various instrumental deliberately and with great care, creating a finale which naturally winds you down.

If you’re looking for folk with a twist, this isn’t it – it step far away from the conventions of folk to form a raw album, comprising of delicate instrumental constructed to form something 3D and everchanging.

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