By Chelsey Wilken
“Hey now, letters burning by my bed for you. Hey now, I can feel my instincts here for you”
Have you ever come across a voice that has stopped you dead in your tracks and left you spellbound?
The kind of voice that evokes a mood, emotion, an image within its timbre. A voice like Hannah Reid’s. The front woman for British trio London Grammar, Smolders in her smoky mid-range and roars bright and clear in the upper end recalling the brooding earthiness of Florence welsh, Mariana Dimandis and Sia.
London grammar’s debut album “If you wait” was released in September 2013. The band appeared briefly in the mainstream spotlight when they were featured on Disclosure’s single: Help me lose my Mind. But maintained underground status by slowly releasing one radiant gem after another onto YouTube while honing their craft before releasing the album. The album contains Soothing songs that build in size and volume and create a unique progression from the xx’s catchy choruses, sweet bass lines and emotional soft sound.
London Grammar’s combination of Melancholy instrumentals, soaring vocals and plaintive lyrics conjure emotions with great ease. The album leisurely draws you in using delicate cobwebs of little more than keys, guitar and Reid’s soprano slur- some songs pass by and go unnoticed but slowly sink in as they capture the fragile emotional state of youth.
“Hey now” captures the band’s sound perfectly, it begins with frostbitten chords which are joined by guitars that recall the xx at their most spectral and eventually Reid’s vocals. Reid has A range that allows her to Sound at once defiant, exhausted and confused, giving us glimpses of vulnerability that lurk below the surface of her outward composure.
Producer, Dot Major, and guitarist, Daniel Rothman, find the music equivalent to Reid’s reserved sense of theatrics to create arrangements that are beautifully atmospheric. The no-man’s land between indecision and action is a common thread between songs on the album. The album justifies the gloomier, murkier, vaguer aspect of being emotional, of feeling disillusioned, betrayed or vengeful.
“Wasting my young years” races towards a climax that never arrives, “I don’t know what you want, don’t leave me hanging on” sings Reid as the song disintegrates into pieces. Reids’ vocals dominate the very minimal instrumentation but does not feel overbearing. There’s beauty in the band’s hesitancy as young musicians feeling their way forward as heard on the song “it takes some time to get it right” but seems like London Grammar is on the right track.
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