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on June 5, 2012
In fact this is Gemma's 6th album even if her first two are now fairly impossible to find being 'Radiology' and 'Navy Blues' (on those two she did create also some great stuff). My first impressions here are that this is a softer work missing some harder edges of before which is true but in the end the beautiful melodic touches win out. Opener 'Alight! Alive!' with a gentle guitar strum backdrop is a pleasant enough jaunty pop piece and which has a "Pacific island" orchestral Sleepy Jackson feel about it but lacks some energy. Next 'Put Your Brain In Gear' continues this similar happy pop vibe as Gemma asks "you should put your brain in gear before you open up your mouth" and is certainly a pretty piece. 3rd 'Runaway' as Gemma digs out her twangy 60s Gretsch as if part of a 60s spaghetti western soundtrack vibe and with instruments whirling all around is the most interesting so far "I didn't even put my make-up on before I made that emergency call". Next 'Trou De Loup' is the one that really first completely grabs with mariachi trumpets entering, a beautiful melody, strong lyrics & is really excellent "they won't silence you with their violence no no". Next up 'Fire House' is also excellent "the fire in the house went on for days & days I was in the bedroom sleeping" fact she was "just dreaming" a nice retro sound & some clever lyrics. 'Flood & A Fire' with just her big sounding guitar on full echo "stiff on the surf, in a distant place carrying you to somebody else" before a farfisa type organ & drums enter and continues the brilliance. And to top that 'Make It Happen' starts once more with full on echo guitar & is for me the most powerful track here...ethereal with again that Doors organ sound. 'Rescue Me' is back to the style of the opening two tracks via a gentle swirling "Pacific island" type vibe. 'They All Wanted A Slice' sways beautifully with some nice clunky sounds & like this (5th top track so far). 'I Can See You' has just Gemma & her big sounding guitar & then some brass appears & the beauty starts to unfold. 'Bring Ring Ring Yeah' & 'Here Comes The Light' continue this pleasant vibe & brings the album "proper" to a close, with then two bonus tracks. 'How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall' shows a complete change in style to dramatic pop & a cover of a Sparks song (helped out by the Mael brothers). Wonderful with still that dreamy voice & some wonderful piano presumably played by Ron Mael. 'Here Come The Light' continues this attractive dramatic vibe (another Sparks involvement) with sudden key changes & piano. A brilliant & beautiful effort of a sort of quasi-retro indie pop rock.
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on March 13, 2015
I think this is an excellent album. I heard one of the songs, "Flood and Fire" on the TV show "The Killing" and it made a big impact on me. The song just gripped me, and I wondered who it was who was singing that song. I think the song is haunting and her voice is very special. Minimalist production which wisely keeps Ms. Ray's voice front and center. I like the guitar sound she uses and I think her voice and phrasing are wonderful. I'm a fan of other female singer/songwriters such as Ingrid Michaelson, Dido, and Jennifer Knapp. Ms. Ray is similar although her voice is very distinctive and her lyrics are a bit more obtuse (in a good way). Very highly recommended.
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