Gemma Ray: Island Fire (Shock)

Gemma Ray: Flood and a Fire
Gemma Ray: Island Fire (Shock)

At a time when many young bands and singers seem nostalgic for an Eighties pop they never knew, it's refreshing in a weird way this British singer -- here on her third album -- is prepared to trawl rather more widely.

Gemma Ray effortlessly notches up references to an oddball take on Fifties pop ( the delightful shoop-shoop ballad sound of "you should, should" Put Your Brain in Gear "before you open up your mouth") as much as swirling and slightly mad take on dreamy sci-fi psychedelia (Troup de Loup) and surf-influenced psychedelics (the languid Make it Happen).

In addition she has collaborated with Sparks on their How Do I Get to Carnegie Hall? and Eaten by the Monster of Love.

She also has a nice line in hook-you lyrics: "I thought you were sleeping, you seemed as right as rain the day before, I never dreamt you wouldn't wake, I never dreamt that you would take them all" which opens to a guitar-twang on Runaway which then morphs into a moody pop ballad.

And on Fire House: "The fire in the house went on for days and days, I was in the bedroom sleeping . . ." All that sounding rather chipper over piano and again girl-group backing vocals.

The ballad Flood and a Fire, and I Can See You, are all tremolo guitar beamed in from Twin Peaks, and Rescue Me is a dreamy, echo laden nod to girl groups of the late Fifties/early Sixties. Bring Ring Ring Yeah is chirpy pop, sort of.

More than the sum of these influences, Gemma Ray manages (by virtue of unusual lyrics and sheer self-confidence) to ceate something distinctive out of this melange.

Not an essential album by any means, but with each song a distinctive stand-alone unit and those dramatic electro-pop Sparks tracks at the end, this one will definitely keep your attention the whole way.

Strange, in a good way. 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Jordan Reyne: How the Dead Live (www.jordanreyne.com)

Jordan Reyne: How the Dead Live (www.jordanreyne.com)

I guess when Creative New Zealand were looking for someone to write music to raise awareness of the country's historical and cultural heritage they wouldn't have had a long list. Right at the top... > Read more

Flight of the Conchords: I Told You I Was Freaky (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

Flight of the Conchords: I Told You I Was Freaky (SubPop/Rhythmethod)

In retrospect, one of the funniest incidents in the Flight of the Conchords' second television series was when the nice but naive New Zealand prime minister Brian turned up and seemed out of his... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST WRITER OWEN WOOD looks at a doco about words and pictures

GUEST WRITER OWEN WOOD looks at a doco about words and pictures

Many years ago while working in London I met a bloke who was, like me I suppose, one of those identikit “something in the The City” types. We all wore the same suits, laughed at the... > Read more

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Tania Giannouli

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE JAZZ QUESTIONNAIRE: Tania Giannouli

Earlier this year Elsewhere -- and many other reviewers locally and internationally -- was impressed by the album Forest Stories by Greek pianist/composer Tania Giannouli and woodwind player Paulo... > Read more