The album, Circus Life is available from 2nd May
St Pancras Old Church, London
The L.P.’s lead single, Eating Me is available from:
Victoria Coghlan and Luke Oldfield fuse beautiful soundscapes and multiple genres to create a dreamy blend. Their inaugural L.P. is guaranteed to blow away the cobwebs and inspire the mind- as well as linger long in the memory.
MUSIC duos are a dynamic that are somewhat rare (in the modern scene).
Historically, there have been a fair few ply their trade, yet few that remain the memory. To my mind, the greatest of all time is The White Stripes. Having seen the band at Alexandra Palace (after the release of Get Behind Me Satan), I can pay testament to just how incredible they are (live). In fact, as I type- their greatest album- White Blood Cells is spinning. It is an album that never fails to amaze me; each song seems to reveal a new treasure or secret- it is a work filled with nuance and timeless joy. The White Stripes worked so well, because of the bond between Jack and Meg. Being formerly married (they perpetrated the ruse that they were brother and sister- to avoid press intrusion and gossip), there was a natural combination of intuition and conflict; a sense of loyalty, understanding and parabond. The Detroit twosome’s third album was not only a leap forward; it retained their core sound but augmented it emphatically- as well as signified a spectral and qualitative move forward for music at the time. During 2001, music was transitioning from the decline and burial of ‘Brtipop’; changes were taking place, and people were looking around for new and inspiring sounds. White Blood Cells is a 16-track collection of near-impecable genius. Aside from the odd track (I find We’re Going to Be Friends a bit too saccharine and slight), I am stunned at just how phenomenal the album is. No band today would have the nerve to record tracks like Aluminium or Little Room; few could match the contrasting brilliance of Hotel Yorba and Fell in Love with a Girl- tracks I Can Learn and I Can’t Wait will not help but grow and reveal their charms. Of course, the duo went on to create three more brilliant and fascinating albums (before they dissolved in 2011). We all know that Jack White has gone on to work with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather (as well as a solo act); yet I feel that he was at his strongest as part of a duo. Aside from the defunct Michigan band, the likes of Simon & Garfunkel, Daft Punk, Steely Dan and The Carpenters have all made their marks on the music world. If the chemistry is right, then the music made can exceed expectations; inspire generations- and transcend the sounds of solo artists and bands. Aside from Daft Punk, most of the all-time great duos have succumbed to entropy. When looking around in the modern scene, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that worthy successor are rising through. Ohio’s The Black Keys are a Garage/Blues riot whom are leading the second wave (of Garage music), and are one of the best acts on the scenes. More than mere White Stripes appropriators, the bond of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney has enforced some incredible sounds- which has seen them scoop their fair share of Grammy Awards. You can tell by my list of duos, that none emanate from the U.K. Traditionally, our nation has always favoured (and promoted) solo and band music- we have not spurned our fair share of duos. The scene is changing, and a resurgence is occurring. Recently I reviewed (which they ignored) Royal Blood; a Brighton outfit making serious waves. Reviewer bitterness aside, I find their music to be some of the strongest of the moment. BBC are tipping them as one of their acts to watch, and their White Stripes-cum-Queens of the Stone Age Rawk riot, is something we will all be hearing a lot more of (this year). Australian/Swedish sister duo Say Lou Lou (another act I have surveyed), their “organic ethereal music landscapes with flowing instruments and vocals” have captured a multitude of minds and ears. As well as U.S./U.K. wonders The Kills, we have Brighton’s own Blood Red Shoes- two distinct acts with a boy-girl dynamic. I raise the discussion, because I am always on the look out for new and different music; with an original componency- where the bond of the musicians is solid and creatively conducive. As much as I love featuring solo acts, you are always looking at the one person; shining the spotlight on the output of a sole human being- songs formed by that one individual. With bands (as there are usually four or five members), it is often more about the music- rather than the bonds. With music duos, you not only get to witness a (ersatz or real) relationship at work, but also the people behind. The band market has enjoyed an hegemony and dominance for many-a-year now, and I feel that musical two-pieces are going to be leading a charge. The likes of The White Stripes have shown just how good music can be in the hands of two people; there is greater force than with a solo act but the equivalent majesty you would hear with a band- it is music at its most compelling and economical. I guess a lot of musicians are fearful of forming duos, afraid that they may not be able to summon up the same amount of force and conviction (as a band). I hope that this policy changes (very soon), as a lot of terrific music and partnerships are being missed out on; but, for now, let me introduce you to my featured act.
In the course of my travels, I have had the pleasure of reviewing only a few acts who are based in (and hail from) the south of England. As well as my international feature-ees, most of my U.K.-based subjects are either situated in Yorkshire or Scotland (and occasionally the Midlands). A few of my recent reviews have looked at London-based acts; yet there seems to be a surfeit of Home Counties acts, currently making big impressions. Before I get more into Gypsyfingers themselves, here is a little biography: “Gypsyfingers is the collaborative musical creation of songwriter Victoria Coghlan & songwriter/producer Luke Oldfield (son of Tubular Bells’ Mike Oldfield) who blend the genres of folk, pop, spoken word, classical and electronic embedding their magical songs in subtle soundscapes. Victoria and Luke play almost all sounds and instruments themselves creating a modern orchestra of acoustic and electric instruments and textures. Multi-instrumentalists Victoria and Luke met in 2011 in London after Victoria returned moved back to her birth town from Paris. She was involved in underground gipsy, dance and rap music scenes there. Luke’s background is in rock and folk music and he runs Tilehouse Studios where his production skills were honed from a young age. Victoria and Luke’s contrasting musical backgrounds fused and soon blossomed into an intriguing and fresh-sounding collaboration, which they would work on recording during studio down-time. Victoria and Luke share vocal and songwriting duties with Victoria as the lead voice and writer. Victoria’s classically-trained intimate vocals go against the grain of recent popular culture’s trend for smokey, belting female vocalists (Adele, etc.) instead inviting the listener to listen more closely to the poetic and at times playful lyrics. The production of Luke Oldfield allow Victoria’s soft vocals space to breath and be heard, whilst building subtle musical worlds around the songs for listeners to explore“. You can see that duo have quite an extraordinary story behind them. I have known Luke for a while now, and familiar with his previous incarnations (playing in bands) and producing work. He is in love with music, and always keen to find the best and brightest around, and- in his role as producer- bring the best from them. A prolific guitarist and musician he was fortunate enough to have played at the opening ceremony of The 2012 Summer Olympics. Victoria has a striking beauty that is hard to ignore, and a voice that is unlike any I have witnessed. There is a definite trend for any singer to be the same as what is ‘in vogue’ or ‘trending’. As of 2014, the likes of Adele are still hugely favoured, and every dreary and awful (female) talent show contestant comes across as a third-rate knock-off. Setting aside my gripe and issues with ‘talent’ shows, the fact of the matter is this: we do not need another Adele. The best and richest voices stem from a unique source; those whom are determined to be themselves and present something that is unfamiliar to the listener- yet offers something wonderful, inspiring and fresh. It is no surprise that Oldfield and Coghlan are such a harmonious and successful duo. Aside from the bond of their relationship, the two share a love for evocative and spellbinding sounds; the need to be striking and original- whilst giving their public something cannot get from another act. As much as I love duos such as Royal Blood and Blood Red Shoes (aside from a shared blood type), there is not too much distinction to be found (both acts hail from Brighton). U.S. frontrunners such as The Black Keys are a little ahead of the likes of Royal Blood, but- even here- there is not a lot to choose between them. The styles and genres favoured may be different, but there is a definite emphasis on heavy sounds; in summoning up Blues and Rock sounds- with the key consideration being given to the sound rather than lyrics or the voice. Gypsyfingers are a leading a charge of duos whom not only can weave magic with their sounds, but also capture you with their words and voices. On May 2nd, the duo play at St. Pancras Old Church to launch the Circus Life album, as well as introduce some new faces to their music. On social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Gypsyfingers have a solid (and growing) following, yet I feel that they deserve more (fans). Whilst still being in their infancy, and making their first big strides, the duo are a name to watch very closely. Recently Coghlan and Oldfield have enjoyed the splendours and public transport of Brussels- as they were filming the video for their song, Return. A lot of work and effort has been expended over the past few months, ensuring that their L.P. is as strong as possible- it is a dedication to music that few other (new) acts share. Over the last few days, our duo have released the video for the song Eating Me- the lead-off single from the album. The video, shot in black-and-white (shot entirely on Super8) has a classic and noir feel to it; with Coghlan depicted in various scenes (including woodland) as the heroine. Interspersed with snippets of Oldfield, the promotional video is a perfect visual representation of the song, and as such, has been gathering positive and glowing reviews- many effusive commentators have added their praise to the duo. Our pioneering twosome have made some big leaps over the last year or so, forging and cementing their sound, and drawing in new and varied influences. Their previous E.P. (Gypsyfingers) was successfully received, and last year saw orders come in from all over the continent- including France, Belgium; Japan, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It seems that the duo already have a dedicated and multi-national following, which could provide tantalising future prospects. All of their previous history and movements have led them to the here and now- and the release of their debut L.P…
Circus Life starts with snaps and fireworks. There is no languid lead in or silence; instantly we are off to the races. Percussive dance and hypnotic rhythm is elicited in the initial seconds; imploring you to listen hard- and grabbing your attention in the process. As a flowing and gorgeous (electric) guitar parable is laid in, the mood starts to build, and intrigue begins to rise. The intro. is succinct but effective, and portrays a breezy alacrity and sense of relaxation; as the listener is gently carried along. When or heroine’s vocals arrive, it is effective and emotive. With a slight edge of Kate Nash and Lily Allen (although sweeter and more striking than both), Coghlan tells tales where the people “Stay out late at night“. Featuring an (unnamed central) figure; here is someone whom is “looking for someone more original“. With no phone credit or money to speak of, the song’s subject is making her way through life. Backing our heroine’s emotive and soothing voice is Oldfield whom uses electric guitar to perfectly parabond with the vocal line. Whereas most bands or acts would aimlessly weave a guitar pattern (that is detached from the vocal in terms of pace and sound), here it is almost like an additional voice; it augments the central voice but also duets perfectly. As the story traverses on, it seems that our (anti)-heroine is a little naive under it all. Her heart is gold and open, and she appears overly-trustful; as Coghlan explains: “You’re losing focus“. The crowds and friends are looking at the song’s subject, and whilst sympathising with her plight and predicament- apparently they are the only ones who see it. The song’s lyrics are brought to life by the vocal delivery, which has a clear skip in its step. Rather than being rushed or slowed, the words are given consideration; they pop and spark; kick and sway. Our heroine’s voice is clear and concise, meaning that the words are clearly audible (a lot of acts mumble or slur their words)- allowing the listener to be immersed within the tableaux. The song’s focal point loses her grip (on reality) by the second. Spending her money on whatever she pleases, the sense of naivety and recklessness is emphasised. I am not sure if our key character is based on a real-life influence (or is fictional), but everyone can relate to the type of person being described. With a modern-day Romeo and Juliet scenario being played out and witnessed, the song’s heroine has dispensed with her (former) beau- and is moving on in life. Our heroine unveils a wordless vocal parable (almost signalling the end of Act One); as guitar and vocal layers are infused- adding weight to proceedings. Coghlan is in reflective mood; sitting down drinking, she ponders events. “Bottled-up thoughts and tensions” are at the fore; yet it seems that alcohol’s effect in loosening the mind is very much needed- to rid her mind’s “constipation“. Whilst our heroine is laughing at the irony, she is “carried away at how it’s supposed to be“. The way that the words tumble almost rap-like leaves your mind racing as you keep up with Coghlan’s words. In terms of the delivery and pace, I got a faitn hint of West End Girls (a slightly faster version of it); and could not help but elicit a grin. Whilst our heroine takes a breath, our hero provides a guitar break that provides progression, punctuation- as well as a change of pace. With notes of Mark Knopfler (and Steely Dan), Oldfield’s twinkling notes tee up our heroine- for another round of slice of modern life anxiety. It is said that all of this- the overspending, naivety and doubts- are just how we live life today; how it would be good if someone could “read (my) mind“- the futility is just a part of the reality of the times. As the track reaches its climax (with another round of vocal wordlessness), a lot of ground has been covered; questions raised and pondered; lives investigated- a relevant and striking opening gambit. Circus Elephant’s embryonic steps are more relaxed and soothing than the opening track. With a gorgeous acoustic guitar arpeggio, the initial words paint striking pictures: “Born out of freedom/To a world that’s not my own“. Our heroine’s voice is less effusive and sunny than before; it has the same drive and passion but is more downbeat and serious. Seeing her mother shackled and tormented, realities and truths are revealed (“I knew this life was full of lies“). You instantly picture a baby elephant (as the central focus) trapped and enclosed; stuck in the circus and yearning to be free. Whether our heroine is speaking literally or using it as a metaphor for the vicissitudes of life, I am not sure; but it is an emotive and evocative track. The guitar work is particularly impressive here. In the opening phases it tumbles and rolls (like Leonard Cohen’s track Avalanche), but then changes speed and declination- creating a heady and entrancing mood. As our heroine tells that “My master beat me/I was weighed down by the shame“; voices are combined and blend to add emotion to the surroundings. Just as you think you are settling in for some calm reflection, the song explodes. Drum smashes tee up a yearning and impassioned brass coda; as gorgeous and swaying (wordless) vocals enter the fray. “Brightly-coloured fabrics” and circus scenery are surveyed, as our elephantic heroine remains ensconced within her torturous environment. Tears are shed and chains are shackled, and whether speaking about the hostility of the big top; or the strains of modern life and relationships, each line vividly sticks in your mind. The trumpets play, the show goes on (“This is just another day“), and an unfortunate fate is being accepted. The drum work is augmentative and impressive; the trumpet work impassioned (and strangely romantic); the guitar playing is gorgeous and highly effective- it is an incredibly moving and impressive composition. It is the kind of song you might imagine if Muse took on Led Zeppelin, doing Disney- it is emphatic and huge; compelling and hugely evocative. Over the course of two tracks a huge sonic shift has been unveiled, that it leaves you a little giddy- and excited to see what comes next! After the swells and operatics of Circus Elephant, the initial notes of Get Yourself Out of Town suggest a more relaxed fare. Grooving and snake-hipped guitar slithers (and what sounds like a bongo) provide our opening soundcape. Our heroine steps to the mic. to offer some sage and direct advice to (an unnamed) subject. Here is someone whom is “causing trouble“; but only they (and Coghlan) know why. Our heroine shows herself to be a vocal chameleon here. Whereas previous tracks have seen her present chirpy and Allen-esque; bold and choral- here she is in tender and sweet-natured mode. Her subject matter looks to ejected a wrong-doer from town, but she delivers her words with such a soothing and beautiful tone, that you get lost in the song. With Elizabeth Fraser-esque tones and Folk-tinged guitar work, our heroine announces: “I wanna see you/Really leaving“. The bustling and shimmering guitar work, not only puts your mind to the sun-filled countryside and shady recesses (of tall trees); it also reminds you of elements of Led Zeppelin III- and some of the greats of the ’60s and ’70s. Ambitions of The Taming of the Shrew and sticking “my fingers to my toes with glue” are coupled, as our heroine implores the deadbeat villan to leave town; and to get out of her life. The musical swathe that closes the track is achingly beautiful and picturesque- xylophone and strings bond with tender percussive tones. As the sun sets (and the fire dies), you wonder whether resolution was achieved and satisfaction obtained. Return has a bit of a Country feel to its introduction. With Oldfield on vocal duties, our hero talks of “Shadows in the doorway/Flicker down the halls“. One would imagine vacant doorways and peaceful silence, our hero sitting and wondering. When thoughts are empty, he sings: “I will fill them with your face“- there is a sense of romantic longing that is planted early on. Whether recounting the loss of a sweetheart or being separated from his love, the vocal is yearning and tender- and instilled with passion and desire. With the silence deafening, and a heart that is missing a huge chunk, our hero states that his love (for you) “is blind“. No amount of demon-praising and God-cursing implore can soothe his mind; as his romantic desire seems to be unslakeable. When Oldfield and Coghlan combine in voice, the lovers duet and intertwine- and the emotional levels rise high. In the second half, the duo combine their vocals and yearn to walk a shared road. Imploring and calling to one another to “dry your eyes“, there is hope that they will be reconciled; be with each other (soon) in body as well as spirit. Once more, an elliptical and riparian guitar intro. sets the scene; as You begins its course. Whereas Return saw Oldfield take the vocal lead, this time Coghlan returns to the spotlight. Her vocal performance has similar shades of This Is The Way- yet the themes here alternate from that song. The quick-fire (rap-like) delivery is present once again, as our heroine is caught in a quandary ( “I don’t know where I stand with you/But sometimes I feel I do“). Whereas This Is The Way looked at the inequities and harsh truth of life, here our heroine is growing wary of an individual- a friend or (fictional) partner- unsure where she stands and figures into their life. With questions that need answering, doubts prescient, our heroine asks: “Who am I to you?” (blending her voice with Oldfield’s). Delicate and plinking piano notes weave with acoustic guitar, as a musical break soothes the song’s anxieties. As the vocals come back around, our heroine wearily admits that “I’m used to people who don’t care“- as her words tumble forth. Wondering whether Coghlan will be asked to stay (or not), it is said that, even if she decides to leave by plane or vessel (“to follow the good stuff“) it will not matter- she is not sure where she stands, or what is expected from her. A sense of identity loss and detachment; a personal and emotional dislocation are evident. Our heroine is “baffled by (your) tactics” and is in need of some honest answers and clear-cut direction. As the song reaches its autumn stages, Coghlan burrows to the bedrock of her discourse (“Please tell me that I stand by you“), her voice still rife with emotional and perseverance. The track shows Coghlan display her skill for quick-fire (and quick-witted) lyrics; words trickle and fall at a rate of knots- meaning that the song grabs you hard and pulls you in. Boasting one of the most effective and memorable choruses of the album (so far), it is another triumph for the duo. The sixth track- and current single- arrives next, in the form of Eating Me. The intro. (here) is one of the most beautiful and flowing on the L.P., and has classical and romantic evocations. After the stirring opening has passed, our heroine is “seeking a remedy“; a way to put her mind at ease. Oldfield’s electric guitar tapestries blend with piano, the create a sonic sandstorm. Coghlan’s vocals are reflective and far less scattershot than in You (and This Is The Way). The entire feel and tone of the song puts you in mind of a 1950s (classic) film. There is a certain sense of bygone cinematic romance as the track progresses. Our heroine’s soul; which (like a hole) is getting “darker and deeper” perhaps takes your mind away from romanticized avenues, and towards something more haunting. As she talks of becoming weaker and thinner; of doctors and nurses carrying “curses in their purses” you can feel the shadows looming. Whilst our heroine is not “ready to go” (her words, once again, delineated and deployed with a rap-like quality), storm clouds rumble, and the soul aches. Whatever has afflicted our heroine has caused a lament; her mind seems weighed down by something troubling. The ghostly (wordless) vocals, wrapped around the piano-guitar cocktail whips up a heady and intoxicating chill. As our heroine speaks of fragility and aching bones; teachers and preachers whom provide leaches for weakness, there is a sense of mortality and frailty- of someone slowly losing her strength. Kudos goes to Coghlan, whom not only beautifully syncopated her lines (giving the song a ‘rollercoaster’ feel), but shows a real gift for words and economy of language- she manages to project a cornucopia of strange and wonderful images, over the course of a mere few seconds. With some aching and scene-setting guitar work, Oldfield allows our heroine to pervade and campaign- whilst investing a huge amount of mood and emotion. As the pusillanimous spirit of our heroine begs (once more) for remedy, the track ends- and takes us past the half-way mark. Steel Bones provides a necessary sense of relief, after the tortured images of Eating Me. The guitar-led intro.- as is almost a hallmark for the duo- sways and has an almost waltz-like quality. It compels you smile and relax; disengage any troubles- and just let the sound wash over you. Being one of the duo’s earliest tracks, it is one I am already familiar with; yet it fits perfectly into the album (there is no sense of disjointed mood or anachronism). With our heroine talking of her steel bones, which “harden as (I) grow“; her voice is a paragon of meditative calm and tranquility. With elements of the likes of The Carpenters and Sigur Ros (disparate I know, but I could hear it), Coghlan talks of “Wounded words you say…”; that are leading her dreams astray. I am unsure as to whom is causing imbalance and woes for our heroine, but any sense of recrimination and accusation is cocooned within a gorgeous dreamscape, which takes your imagination with it. The combination of vocal duetting; beautifully touching piano work and beautiful guitar melt your heart. The interplay of (classical-sounding) guitar and elongated strings put my in mind of The Cinematic Orchestra- a similar sense of graceful beauty is displayed here. It is a track that makes you think; makes you close your eyes- and drift away…and a song you will have on permanent repeat. A sudden rush of (guitar) strings and pianos opens Lump to your ears. As it gallops into view, our heroine arrives; telling some unfortunate truths (“I try to speak I just choke“). Desiring this feeling to fade away, Coghlan allows her breathy vocal to command; drawing you into her thoughts. As the acoustic strings trickle and flow like a river, our heroine speaks to an (anonymous) subject: “I’ve seen your darker inside“. Whether speaking of a friend, or else a former love, you cannot get help but be captured by the evocative and dream-like vocal; the multi-tracked waves- complete with delicately tender piano notes. Just as a sonic somnambulism casts its spells, the mood rises. Energised and jumping piano fuse with springing guitar, to whip up a delirious coda. The romantic and hypnotic parable melts with subtle strings; the pace modulates slightly- before our heroine returns to the mic. This time, Coghlan speaks of a restless and agitated soul (“She wants this feeling to fade away“); summoning up a phantasmal firestorm of (gorgeous) vocals- it is almost as though our heroine beckons from the heavens. The final seconds take the rush to a whisper; the story is recounted and told- and concludes a spellbinding track. It comes close to rivalling Circus Elephant- as the album front-runner- and (considering it is the antepenultimate track) shows that Gypsyfingers are tireless, unimpeachable and never in danger of dropping a step. Most albums tire towards the final few songs (meaning there is nothing to build up to), yet after Lump arrives, I found myself surprised at how many treats the album keeps throwing up. Lately takes its infant steps with less of a charge than Lump. The scene is set; the plaintive and beckoning guitar seems like the sonic representation of a lone figure walking a dusty road; the sun in their hair, and thoughts on their mind. Electric guitar vibrations infuse some urgency and invigoration into the picture, as our heroine comes forth. Coghlan- previously haunting of voice- is now back in direct mode; picking the bones of an emotional carcass (“I slammed you down and beat you to it“), her voice restrained yet filled with purpose. As she says (to her target) “I bet you thought I couldn’t do it“, Coghlan, once more, raps and spins her words. Defying expectation, showing bravery and- against the background of a life that has been “f****** cool“- our heroine is in an ambitious and motivated frame of mind. In spite of a sense of optimism, there are still pitfalls and hurdles that are being encountered. As the next verse arrive, her back is turned (“How could I have know that I’d regret it“); a figure whom acts the fool has let our heroine down- something that was not expected. Forgiveness has been given- something that is regretted- and Coghlan machine-guns words of recrimination and self-reflection. As our duo combine their vocals, singing about the fever and malaise that boredom has provided (“I’ve been feeling so lazy“)- a reappraised (optimism) refrain arrives. The song never slips in doleful or sombre mood; the bright and energizing guitar keeps the composition buoyant and hopeful. After the mid-point, Coghlan looks back at events; more philosophical and revitalised- she comes back to the fold. As our heroine confesses “I’ve had a second chance“- love has been found once more- she understands the meaning of the “path of (my) past“. As she contemplates “how things should happen“, it seems that whatever was weighing her down seems curcumscribed- call it ‘fate’, or reality; things have worked out. Coghlan (in the song) has the charming vocals or early-career Allen, yet her (Coghlan) words and thoughts are more compelling; her delivery much more pleasing on the ear- and the song a lot stronger than the Hammersmith-born singer has created. The final song of Circus Life arrives in the form of The Island. It is perhaps the perfect title for the final step of this musical travelogue- a final destination; a safe (haven) arrival. A tranquil and emotive intro begins our final track. Instant visions of a ship (or vessel) arriving towards an island are rustled up- perhaps appropriate, given the track’s header. It is perhaps the most stunning intro. of the ten, and put me in mind of the finest work of The Cinematic Orchestra. When I listen to tracks such as Arrival of the Birds and Transformation, I can hear some of the same beauty and grace in The Island’s opening. The vocal here is Oldfield’s; he has been collected by boats (from the island) to “take me away“. Perhaps the silence and loneliness of the isle paradise is not so idyllic; our hero yearns for another horizon- and asks for a reason why he should stay. Forever he has tried to “fit in the shapes“, his voice aches and longs. Whilst not as angelic as Coghlan’s it is a touching and honest vocal; one which is filled with meaning and conviction- and no less striking than our heroine’s. With the ship drifting in the breeze, our hero imagines the “wreckage beneath“; the darkness of the ocean; and an inescapable depth. When our duo combine their tones- backed by shivering strings- it seems as though Coghlan is playing the role of the Siren- luring our hero forth. In the same was as a track like Street Spirit (Fade Out) ends The Bends; Dream Brother ends Grace, The Island is the perfect track to conclude on- as it is not only one of the strongest, but instilled with beauty and spine-chilling moments. Arriving off of the back of a song (Lately) it is not only a stunning sonic (and mood) shift, but also a song which succinctly combines the talents of the duo. Some of the strongest moments arrive when they blend their voices, as this is true on The Island. Before you become fully entranced within the symphonic whirlpool of beauty, Oldfield is back with us. Speaking of riches (both literal and spiritually); although we are “all millionaires“, when it comes down to things it’s all just “a bucket of air“. You can imagine our hero, lying down on a boat- the island behind him- as he sets off to a new arrival. With his mind heavy, it seems that things might be alright. With a final round of spectral vocals, the song dies down- as you sit and (try to) take it all in.
On the evidence of Circus Life, I have no hesitation in predicting that Victoria Coghlan and Luke Oldfield’s Gypsyfingers bandwagon will be gathering huge steam. Previous to reviewing the album, I had heard songs such as Steel Bones- so was familiar with just what they were capable of. Their debut album is a confident and wonderful collection, that shows how the duo have grown. For anyone familiar with their previous work, you the duo’s core personality and components are present and correct- yet they have taken a big musical leap forwards. Coghlan is a singer whom is already ahead of many of her contemporaries. Whilst a lot of modern singers either favour a huge belting voice, or soft and (let’s be honest) un-captivating utterances, our heroine has managed to present and cement a voice that is unique and striking- yet has plenty of power and beauty within. As a songwriter, her palette is multifarious and stunning, and she is a talented and inventive wordsmith. Like my previous review subject (The Glass Child), not only was I captured by the music, but could relate to the lyrics. Great storytelling and poetry blends with vivid and stirring scenes and avenues- a rare treat for any listener. There are a lot of great female singer/songwriters on the scene, yet few whom distinguish themselves fully from the back. I have surveyed a few of them this year, and Coghlan is someone who can be added (very near to) the top of the list. Likewise, Oldfield adds his huge talents into the melting pot, and adds colours and huge emotional weight to every track. Being a prolific and multi-genre musician, he combines wonderfully with his cohort; his vocalisations are augmentative and hugely effective, too. It is perhaps unsurprising that our duo have a natural sympatico; yet it is surprising that they can weave their two- disparate and varied- backgrounds together: and infuses them so seamlessly. Because of their affection and kinship you can hear it come to life on the record. Nothing sounds forced or artificial across the ten tracks; everything is organic and completely seemless- what you would expect from a band/act whom had been recording for years. Similarly, there is a huge amount of confidence on the L.P. Every note and line is sung with emotion as well conviction- making sure each track sticks in your mind. The compositions are nuanced and sparse; emotive and symphonic (in places), and the sonic threads combine superbly. Whereas contemporaries such as Royal Blood have perhaps a one (or two) dimensional aesthete, the Gypsyfingers is rich and variegated. I know how much music means to both of them, and how hard they have worked on their debut- not only to make it sound as good as possible, but make sure it was recorded at all. This all comes through when you investigate Circus Life; is an opus that has its instant ‘classics’ but also a few tracks that reveal their charms (across multiple listens) a little later on. When I have reviewed albums by new acts, I often find that they tend to sag at the half-way (or two-thirds) mark, yet there is a pleasing and strong consistency in Circus Life. The production is brilliant as well; meaning that every song is as clear and concise as possible; full of atmosphere and wonder- and the running order is spot on too. One minor (non) criticism would be that you are left wanting more (after track 10); maybe an additional song or two would slake your thirsts; but such is the charm and intention of the album- it leaves you wanting more. On that note, I am sure our dynamic duo are looking to the future. Previous success has shown that they have a definite international market, and their music is such as it can be extrapolated and digested but audiences from all around the world- meaning they could be very busy, very soon. I know that nations such as France, Germany and Belgium would love their brand of song; as would larger (commercial) nations such as the U.S. and Canada. I feel that- maybe in a year or so- Coghlan and Oldfield could see themselves playing venues around the world; their unique and stirring sounds will be in demand across various nations. When we consider new music, and look around for inspiring acts and songwriters, then you should take the time to investigate Gypsyfingers. I feel that there are plenty of great bands and ‘heavier’ acts out there at the moment; with perhaps not a lot of room available for mobility and surprise. Similarly, we have our share of great solo acts- whom favour powerful vocals or something subtler- that do what they do very well. To my mind, we are bereft of duos whom offer something genuinely different (and exceptional); that which breaks away from Rock’s parable- and gives the listener and endeavouring music-lover something unique. The combined talents of our duo, as well as their natural bond and shared affection shines through in their music- they have the potential for serious longevity, and have a unabatable passion for their craft. Circus Life is an L.P. that I will be investigating for some time to come, and revelling in its myriad charms. I always advise people to pay patronage to new musicians whom are thoroughly deserving; to provide encouragement and support as much as possible. Their debut is a brilliant accomplishment, but also shows just a glimmer of what they can achieve- and how far they can go. Both Coghlan and Oldfield are itinerant and tirelessly hard-working, so they should seriously entertain the possibility of a wave in demand (for gigs and new material). For now, settle back; digest the scenes, themes and dreams contained within Circus Life- and witness a young duo intent on making big impressions. In a week that has been particular fraught and stressful to me, Gypsyfinger’s newest offering has not only provided me with a (much-needed) smile and anxiety release; but also inspired my own creative mind. I have long dreamed of snatching up Oldfield for a band of my own, yet I fear that our hero’s talents will see him taking Gypsyfingers to new horizons. Coghlan’s gorgeous voice and captivating songwriting has compelled me to pick up my pen and work on my own songs; craft my sound and try to get the best out of my own work. For all my effusive and florid words, the real proof is in the pudding- how you view their album and what the future demand will be. Dive in, and allow yourself to get lost, as our duo have created an album that will be revealing layers for many months to come. It is the sound of a two-piece with a lot to say; with a real appetite for music. As much as anything…
IT is one of the finest albums I have heard all year.
This Is The Way- 9.7/10.
Circus Elephant- 9.9
Get Yourself Out of Town- 9.6
Eating Me- 9.8
Steel Bones- 9.8
The Island- 9.9
Standout Track: Circus Elephant