ALBUM: Under Mountains – Rachel Sermanni

I found Rachel Sermanni during Fin Greenall’s recent Perfect Darkness tour; the Scottish singer songwriter had been supporting Fink across Europe.

I didn’t see her perform, it was another dark haired songstress at the Birmingham gig, but after Google searching my curiosity I found a bevy of online broadcasts. Hhmmm, ‘Breathe Easy’… alright, let’s give that a listen then.

Under Mountains is Sermanni’s debut album, released on Sept 17th – with limited edition artwork for those that pre ordered. And in short, it’s brilliant. If singer-songwriters are your sort of thing.

In a slightly more voluble evaluation, Sermanni’s storytelling solos drag you into a world of mellifluous yet dark mystic; an ethereal wilderness of lonely seas, opaque landscapes, and Robert Burns homage.

For the most part it’s just girl and guitar, which is the Sermanni I knew through YouTube and Vimeo – and that’s sufficient. Her sonorous vocals strong enough for any balcony, empty room or circling traffic.

Songs like ‘The Fog’ and ‘Eggshells’ heed warnings I don’t fully understand, but follow to the note; whilst ‘Ever Since the Chocolate’ and ‘Sea Oh See’ paint lullabies of strange intent, accompanied by considered keys and violin.

The occasional studio harmony can stomp its way into a few tracks, tainting the otherwise sublime ‘Sleep’.

Whilst a slightly overbearing approach to violins can also detract; a peak-too-soon crescendo drowning some of the fiery build in ‘Bones’ – a track that shows an encouraging fight to Sermanni’s vocals.

But when the production succeeds, as in the soft keys closing out ‘Song to a Fox’, it’s magical. An obvious word but one I’ll stand by using. In fact I’ll say it again, MAGICAL.

My only real gripe would be sequencing (I wouldn’t have opened with ‘Breathe Easy’, a song so beautiful it makes me want to use the word ‘weep’), and the unfortunate fact that over 50% of the tracks had been previously released.

Although considering I’ve had Under Mountains on repeat since last Monday, and bought two copies – one on download, one with limited edition artwork; I suppose I’ll live.

And I look forward to settling all outstanding accounts with album two.

Under Mountains is out now, available in store and online. For more on Rachel Sermanni, including available releases, visit http://www.rachelsermanni.net/

 Rachel Sermanni headlines The Studio Room at The Glee Club on Sept 27th. For details on this, and other gigs at the venue, visit http://www.glee.co.uk/birmingham-music

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