Consisting of six undiluted and naked brief snap shots of reflective emotion and musical sincerity, the self-titled debut EP from UK singer songwriter Shannon Hope is an enchantment which is impossible to pull away from. The release is a piece of honesty which is straight from the heart and as such is not ashamed in presenting its warts and all creative passions. It is not perfect but still a release which enchants and connects with thoughts and experiences with a knowing veracity.
Bury St Edmunds-based Hope first came to note at the closing period of the last decade as one half of boy-girl riot-punks Glory Glory, providing vocals and drums as well sharing the songwriting. The band drew strong plaudits for its DIY enterprise but upon its demise Hope moved back to her hometown and immersed in the local scene, as the vocalist/drummer for Rats As Big As Dogs and Horse. Richly inspired by the likes of Cat Power and Bjork she also began writing for herself, with the EP her first bewitching persuasion.
Released through Sturm Und Drang Recordings, the EP offers loud whispers of contemplative personal truth, smouldering voices of relationships and personal feelings wrapped in uncluttered and equally pensive sounds. Opening track A Part Of Me gently approaches the ear with shuffling percussion, a melancholic guitar, and the expressive elegant voice of Hope. From a slowly strolling melodic musing the song rises to its feet from time to time to tease the senses but never releases its emotive restraint or compelling lure. As with all the tracks there are shadows never far away to cast shade over the suggested and sometimes strong flickers of hope inspiring light, their union crafted with passion and intelligence.
The following I Could Do Without This again entwines varied eagerness of gait though never lifts a foot far from the dejected floor of the song. Whilst rhythms scuff their way through the downcast mood of lyrics and breath, Hope once more holds sway over the listener with her mesmeric tones. The song is barely two minutes though seemingly passes much quicker within its presence, but ignites the passions with the strongest temptation on the release only matched by the opener.
Life’s Memorabilia and Any Road both lay bare their wounds in full gaze of ear and thoughts with the guitar of Hope at its most potent on the release, especially in the second of the two. There is no pretence or fussiness about the songs or EP overall either which immediately connect the emotions and thoughts of the artist to those of the listener, the simplicity of sound and honesty allowing one to feel part of Hope and her life. As to how personal the songs are the weeks ahead will reveal no doubt but within the embrace of the songs you only feel every note and word has been dramatically lived.
Closing songs Block You Out and Time Goes Too Fast bring a fine end to the encounter, the first with energy and drive which for the first time on the release does breaks sweat whilst the final song, without finding the same depth of engagement elsewhere, makes for a pleasing last caress. The production on the EP is minimal which perfectly complements the verity of the songwriting and sound. It maybe is not a release to ignite raging fires inside but nevertheless is an inviting and strongly satisfying pleasure.
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