Gabrielle Aplin- Acoustic EP
The best cover versions reinvent the songs they’re taking on, or else give them an extra meaning – it’s why Johnny Cash’s American Records series worked so well. It’s also why Gabrielle Aplin is my new favourite artist. But she’s not just a covers kind of gal, this five track EP contains four originals, and only one reinterpretation.
I’ll get the cover out of the way first. It’s Aplin’s softer look at You Me at Six’s ‘The Liar and the Lighter’, an album track rather than a single, and rightly so. The original is a generic punk-pop tune, with weak guitar work and a safe tempo throughout. Aplin’s reinvention is a gorgeous piano ballad, reminiscent of some of England’s best new folkies – Eliza Carthy, Kate Rusby, and even Laura Marling. Aplin has a great ear for melody, and her breakdown section is something the song’s original really lacked. The song becomes more plaintive, and sounds heartfelt.
Aplin is equally at home with guitar, and her fingerpicked opener ‘Ghosts’ is a light introduction to the five-track record. However, it quickly builds in the style of Chris Martin (this is not a bad thing, Chris really knows how to get a song to build and build and build). ‘Ghosts’ has one of the most impressive choruses you’re likely to hear all year, and reaches a beautiful crescendo. The songs are greatly helped by Aplin’s gorgeous vocals, capable of sublime highs as well as earnest, mournful lows.
‘Mountains’ is the out and out folk tune of the record. Not straightforward folk, but rather a sumptuous pop folk, that could sound easily at home on BBC Radio 1 or Radio 2 (although where folk finds a home on Irish radio, I’m still not too sure). It’s usually around this point in reviews that I mention the album or EP’s highpoint or if it’s going well, the low point. Well there’s neither here. It’s high from start to finish. The production is immaculate, and the handclaps on the fantastic ‘More Than Friends’ are inspired.
EP closer ‘Reverse’ is just as good as the rest of the songs, rounding off a wonderful debut release from the 18 year old English singer. It’s a knowing song for one so young, and the lyrics about growing up and losing “the novelty of clear blue skies and climbing trees” are something everyone can relate to no matter what age.
An utterly fantastic debut release from a lady with heaps of potential. Sound of 2011 lists, are you watching?