Using Google to try and research more about Plum and her new album The Seed for this review was not the easiest or swiftest search in history but my knowledge about the fruit and how to grow them is now second to none. All that is needed to be known though is that The Seed is one of the most creatively beautiful releases to come along in a long time, an emotive and organic journey that rewards and grows with each venture into the expressive depths it offers.
Plum, or Shona Maguire as her Mum, friends, and this rather forward reviewer calls her, is a singer/songwriter/producer from Rosewell, Midlothian who has yet again composed and created one of the most graceful and glorious collections of ideas, thoughts and songs to find the ear. The release whispers and enthuses, inspires and provokes, and explores whilst enlightening the heart from start to finish. Consistently intriguing and persistently inviting The Seed takes one on a personal passage through it’s, hers, and our thoughts and emotions, many yet untapped. The release explores and expands within the concept of an idea, from the planting of the seed it sprouts from, through its growth to the point of fruition. It offers a warmth and finesse as it equally challenges and inspires whilst continually caressing the senses with a bounty of beautiful melodies and awakening surprises.
Shona from undertaking work experience at Split-Level Studios from age 15-19 where her eagerness to learn studio engineering and recording grew and further evolved, moved as a 24 year old to London in 2006 to take a Music Production course to help with her frustration of being unable to fully communicate her creative ideas as she wanted. Her creativity and ideas grew all the time and by the end of the course she was signed to American label Summer Rain Recordings. With them she released The Whispering Chamber and The Glory Feast EPs in 2007 and 2008 respectively, her remarkable sounds gaining more and more attention. Returning to Scotland she became a notable force in Scottish electronic music leading her to prestigious label Benbecula Records where she became the only female artist in their 11 year history to be signed. The critically acclaimed Different Skin of 2009 followed and set her light shining even brighter and to wider and stronger focus.
The Seed is the next impressive step in her evolution, a deeply accomplished and compelling album that still suggests there are great glories within her and ahead to be unveiled. The album brings beauteous minimal invention into a kaleidoscope of bewitching imagination and invention alongside soaring and often vigorous electronic synth surges and seemingly disconnected beats and loops. Combined the result is an album that moves from mesmerically stunning to openly staggering. With natural metaphors and distinct postmarks of organic evolution to lead the way, the album is a wonderful exploration that lets its recipients pull from it and themselves an individual personal connection.
From the opening title track the album is nothing but inciteful and insightful. First song The Seed plays with the senses with an eager and robust energy, a gnarled dark bass leading and underpinning the dazzling electronically lit beacons that light the above skies. The song romps through the ear with an edge you would expect from Throwing Muses or The Pixies and the grace and the electronic pomp of Strangers, a heady and very satisfying union.
Variation is a keen element of the album as the likes of the emotive The Truth & The Knife, the slowly expanding and reflective Dirt, and the wonderful slightly caustically melodic Smile with its disentangled beats and samples, distinctly show. The album is outstanding throughout and there is never a moment when the power and quality drops, its beauty additionally blessed with the stunning angelic voice of Shona to bring a further depth and magical texture to the pieces.
With the astonishing Chrysalis a song rivalling the opener for top honours and the infectious and amazing Secret Roots not far behind, The Seed is a majestic album of not only sound but imagination. It is also already one of the most important releases of the year.
Directed, filmed and edited by Greg Hoyna greghoyna.com
Written and produced by Jim Wolff, Jordan Laird and Michael Kinlan from Leith Records leithrecords.com