Rae Morris - From Above [EP]
Blackpudlian singer-songwriter Rae Morris is only 19 - but considering the calibre of young musicians these days (Earl Sweatshirt, A*M*E, Selena Gomez), that shouldn't be something to put anyone off. In fact, her age means largely nothing: her sound is worldly, pockmarked with emotional maturity and she's capable of chundering out tunes like any twenty-something midway through their career. Even though she slots neatly into that 'singer-songwriter' category, don't shudder or shrink away, for she has an approach that takes more from Bon Iver than Ed Sheeran and his surging lackeys. Some people have even noted Kate Bush, Alessi's Ark and Joanna Newsom as similar. While she may not exactly hit a 'Peach, Pear, Plum' or a 'Skinny Love' with her soon-to-be-released From Above EP, she veers cannily away from Birdy, which is always a brilliant thing.
'Wait A While' is a mournful piano number, acting more as a vehicle for Morris' exquisite voice than anything else. The instrumentation feels plain, and when it seems like it's about to explode, there's no real payoff. That said, her voice is the part of the track that should be followed - her tone is fragile, raw and even at the most demanding sections, she's pitch-perfect. The title track is home to an Ellie Goulding wispiness, the keys mimicking her melody and sporadic guitar echoing akin to The xx. It's subtly haunting indie-folk masquerading as sweeping balladry. The real cherry on this sundae is 'This Time'. It's a heartbreaking tale of hope: "You're the bricks and mortar building me up to where I long to be/ this time I'll hold on," a feeling which is heightened by resolutely triumphant piano chords, synth choirs and delicate percussion. It's post-rock in structure but pop in timbre.
This isn't going to be Rae Morris' White Album. It's a concise stepping stone towards bigger and bolder things; as it's only a trilogy of tracks, she doesn't have enough time to really sprawl out musically, instead opting for the instant gratification - which is okay for a release like this. When the time comes for a beefy LP, we'll surely see her expand and fill the space available, hopefully with instrumental experimentations - her knack for melody occasionally crosses over to the piano, but too often it mimics or plays second fiddle to her flawless voice. The scarce issues with From Above will be easily rectified with time, and with something that shows this much promise, she'll be back before we know it.