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

The Dead Leaves: Cities on the Sea (LIberation)

The Dead Leaves: Cities on the Sea (LIberation)

Three years ago with his name out front, Matt Joe Gow – formerly of Dunedin, longtime Australian resident – delivered the promising debut The Messenger which walked a line between... > Read more

Michael Chapman: Rainmaker (Light in the Attic)

Michael Chapman: Rainmaker (Light in the Attic)

British folk singer and rather special guitarist Michael Chapman has rarely had his dues outside of his native land, but his edgy style (sometimes with a band so nudging into rock-folk), and fierce... > Read more

New Elsewhere

PATRICIA PICCININI CONSIDERED (2014): Empathy and the art of the heart

PATRICIA PICCININI CONSIDERED (2014): Empathy and the art of the heart

The most common defense of intellectually bankrupt or emotionally empty contemporary art is that it “invites the viewer to ask questions”. This is reflexive curator-speak... > Read more

STONEY AND THE JAGGED EDGE, UNEARTHED (2014): The Sixties sound of psychedelic garageband Detroit

STONEY AND THE JAGGED EDGE, UNEARTHED (2014): The Sixties sound of psychedelic garageband Detroit

Just when you think the library of the past has been fully illuminated, someone comes along and points to a low door in the wall which opens into a secret, dark room. And in there your torch... > Read more