Gemma Hayes is a 24-year-old folk-rock singer from Tipperary who has just made the most disorienting album of the year. While 2001’s debut EP ‘4.35am’ laid down fragile acoustic roots, here producer Dave ‘Mercury Rev’ Fridmann has blended that acoustica with, well, noise. The results sound like a bloody but inconclusive battle between Beth Orton and PJ Harvey.
This clash of sweetness and discordance can be irritating. Like when the repetitive murmurs on ‘Tear In My Side’ and ‘Lucky One’ lull you into dreamy oblivion, before heavy guitars shatter the ambience completely. Some vague, uninspired lyrics also hamper ‘Night On My Side’, with ‘I gotta stay out all night/Till I’m back feeling alright’ (from ‘I Wanna Stay’) among Hayes‘ slackest efforts.
But there are lush, poignant songs too (‘My God’, ‘Back Of My Hand’) which along with Hayes‘ rich, creamy vocals, ensure there is enough here to intrigue.