Zo? Wren and Jasmine Watkiss, are singers and multi-instrumentalists who, together, make up previous Fatea EP of the Year Award winners, Roswell. Their website describes them as "harmony-obsessed", and their new EP, Come Home, certainly makes that point with a vengeance.
I haven't heard two women sing together like this since Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and, like the McGarrigle sisters, their music has the commercial advantage of appealing to more than one type of audience.
There are elements of folk, country, and even a kind of Indy-Rock Lite here - a mixture that might condemn some acts to the "Who are they really?" bin for lack of identity. However, the afore-mentioned harmonies combine with some pretty strong songwriting to impose a meta-identity on the whole that lets them pull the trick off.
The opening track, Restless, is a piece of social commentary about the problematic world we live in. It has a catchy chorus that says it's "Time for some wisdom for a change." I have to confess that the rhythm and accompaniment reminded me of Ghost Riders in the Sky - an image I found hard to shake, but one which younger listeners should be untroubled by!
Comfortable Lies is about the accommodations those in a long-term relationship make. It has a slight early Beatles-ish feel about it - and I mean that as a compliment.
The next song, the title track, Come Home, has a more folky, backwoods feel reminiscent of an Appalachian ballad. I can imagine someone like Dolly Parton, in her more rootsy mode, covering this tale of a woman turning her back on her past.
Romeo, Juliet has the protagonist looking back on 6 years of a relationship that she sees as being as problematic as that of Shakespeare's lovers. Despite that, she still looks forward to "talking for hours in a cocktail bar" with her partner. This is more of an Indy-style song, with a continuous rolling, repeated chord pattern underneath the harmonies.
End of the Line has a definite American-period Fleetwood Mac feel about it in the backing, with a dash of Graham Nash in the melody. Roswell are multi-instrumentalists, so I'm making the assumption that they're doing most, if not all, of the playing here. It's a great arrangement, with a strong, and unexpected - given the Fleetwood Mac-ish sound - fiddle solo.
The final number, Long Distance Love Song, is self-explanatory in terms of its theme. It's an uptempo Americana-type ballad with some tasty lyrics that reminded me of Steely Dan - "It's a long and glorious summer here, but I crave Yin and Yang".
As must be evident from the above, their songwriting is, at least in part, the product of immersing themselves in the work and traditions of past masters - and all the better for that! Nevertheless, this is based on inspiration, not imitation.
This is a fine piece of work: classy arrangements, great playing, excellent songwriting, and those soaring harmonies. In fact, my only reservation about this EP is that the trademark harmonies are maybe a tad overdone.
Overall, I'd have preferred to hear some solo vocal work to provide more light and shade. That aside, I'd recommend this to anyone who likes strong songs and beautiful singing.
|Jono Manson: Silver Moon||Patsy Thompson: Fabulous Day|
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