Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Serafina Steer - The Moths Are Real

Serafina Steer's new album is generating the kind of attention inevitably accured from a Jarvis Cocker production, and it's ever bit deserved.  I first encountered her in a live performance at the Green Man Festival a few years ago and loved the quirky elegance of her performance which was replicated brilliantly on the Change Is Good, Change Is Good album.

Three years on, this new album is a different beast entirely.  Its opening track and first single 'Night Before Mutiny' is smooth and utterly sublime, eschewing the barely tamed angular edges of her previous collection in favour of a taut beauty underpinned by her bold yet delicate harp playing.  It's the track I've chosen for broadcast in my Dandelion Radio show this month, and I've gone for the longer album version because, frankly, anything this good needs to be heard for as long as possible.

Elsewhere, you get the punchy stridency of 'The Machine Room', the impudently singable 'The Removal Man' and, in 'Disco Compilation', perhaps the first instance of a harpist sharing space with glitterballs and giving way to intoxicating anachronistic rhythms apparently stripped from old Shalamar or Odyssey records.

Serafina Steer is an artist determined to get out of a box.  What the album shares with its predecessor is apparently a desire to make an album which has the harp as a lead instrument that is about as far away as your expectations as to what that might be like.  Like its predecessor, The Moths Are Real achieves this, differently, but brilliantly.

Mark W

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