Gemma Ray: Island Fire (Shock)

 |   |  1 min read

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

Artisan Guns: Coral (Warners)

Artisan Guns: Coral (Warners)

Unlike so many young bands who leap quickly onto record, this Auckland band (once described as "young" but now "mature" might better) have progressed slowly and steadily towards... > Read more

FleaBITE: In Your Ear (Jayrem)

FleaBITE: In Your Ear (Jayrem)

Everyone is allowed to have fun, right? Which is why Elsewhere sometimes includes bizarre or just plain stupid stuff when it pulls From the Vaults. And also why we posted the Fatcat and Fishface... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

T-Model Ford and GravelRoad: Taledragger (Alive/Southbound)

T-Model Ford and GravelRoad: Taledragger (Alive/Southbound)

At 90, the great and late-discovered bluesman T-Model Ford still sounds like he is one man who isn't going to let the road of life weary him. Here with his touring band GravelRoad, he delivers... > Read more

Mark Knopfler: Why the long face, son?

Mark Knopfler: Why the long face, son?

When former Dire Straits man Mark Knopfler came to New Zealand to play in 2005 I read the interview in the Herald about his terrible motorcycle accident . . . and burst out laughing. Not... > Read more