This Snowpoet article was written by Chris Hobbs, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.
The songs in ‘Snowpoet’ are excellent, but it is their presentation that really make them shine. Somewhat pensive in their nature, the beats in this album often take a background to rich, delay-soaked instrumentation; electronic harmonies and intimate spoken and sung vocals.
This intimacy is apparent throughout the full length of ‘Snowpoet’, but is particularly pronounced in its lyrical themes and the beauty with which they are sung. The first single of the album, ‘Waves’, is a strong example of both, lyrically tackling the sensitive and personal issue of depression. From the soft strain of the bottom of her range halfway through ‘If I Miss a Star’, to the partially sung, partially spoken tracks such as ‘Poetry of Stillness’, Lauren Kinsella’s evocative vocal performance is stellar throughout.
Musically, the album masterfully works together the more experimental timbres, showcased in the instrumental track ‘Gathering’, with accessible structures and restrained instrumental work to create tracks with a huge amount of depth. Each song warrants many listens, not only to appreciate its quality at face value, but to pick out more fleeting moments of beauty; a one off synthetic decoration or the richness of a vocal harmony that escaped your attention previously.
The album has a slightly surreal, or even spiritual tone. The heavily panned, semi-audible spoken word in the background of opening track, ‘Mermaid’, feels at once human and a little alien, while the delay in the instrumentation washes every note in hazy psychedelia. The closing track ‘Eviternity’ asks, “What is your picture of reality?”, before thick synthetic chords resonate with angelic euphoria. ‘If I Miss a Star’ is not unlike a hymn at times: the intimacy of the dry, solo vocals feel about as personal as a pre-recorded performance can be. This review can only scrape the surface of what is truly great about this album. Each individual song is sublime and complimentary to the songs that appear both before and after it.
The use of whispers as a vocal technique is particularly remarkable. ‘Glad to Have Lost’ and ‘In a Quiet Space’ both use the technique liberally, the latter of which also manages to navigate an unconventional structure with particular aplomb.
While the percussion on this album is relatively understated, the drum solo in ‘Waves’ – described by the band as “the sound of your mind destroying itself” – is vibrantly rhythmic and manages to maintain interest successfully over a relatively long period of stasis. The purposefulness with which different instruments and techniques are placed throughout the album make the beauty of the more subtle features all the more notable. One that always stands out is the occasional use of male vocal harmony when the majority of the vocal work is female.
It really pays to take the time to listen to ‘Snowpoet’. It is truly a beautiful work. Easy to listen to, yet with a richness that rewards deep listening, it makes the silence when it finishes feel reverently reflective. A thoroughly excellent first album.
‘Snowpoet’ is out now via Two Rivers Records.