wears the trousers magazine

sounding off: june 2009 (ii)

In part two: the return of Sarah Fimm, the persistent Honey Ryder and star-in-waiting Laura Jansen.

* * *


Sarah Fimm
White Birds EP ••••½
Fimm Inc.

Originally released as a free download for a limited time through her website late last year, the White Birds EP marks the return of New York’s Sarah Fimm after an absence of four years. Shedding the harder-edged electronica and general murkiness of 2004’s Nexus, these six songs cast Fimm in a slightly warmer light with production that focuses on her alluring, velvety vocals that almost seem to float over the top of the music. It’s not exactly cosy though; Fimm is playing a shady hand that reveals itself most plainly on ‘Let It Run’, which marries a trip hop-styled beat to a vampyric vocal accentuated unsettlingly by a stabs of harpsichord. Only one song, the melancholic ‘Fly’, finds Fimm at her trusty piano. Even with this comparatively simple arrangement, backed only by a string quartet, Fimm conveys all the required emotion to make it every bit as enchanting as her more complex compositions.

It’s no easy task to maintain an individual sound after so many years away, and while the opening ‘Counting Waves’ (co-written and sung with London-based artist Lettie) perhaps suggests Fimm is less of an individual voice than she used to be, this notion is dispelled by the time the immersive, epic title track draws proceedings to an close. Run a bath, light some candles, and let it all engulf you. White Birds is a piece of truly captivating art, proving yet again that Fimm is more than just a magnetising voice but a blindingly talented songwriter and musician. With suggestions of two more EPs to follow by the end of the year, this is one hell of a comeback.

Claire Robinson
UK release date: 11/05/09; www.myspace.com/sarahfimm



Honey Ryder
Rising Up [reissue] •••
Honey Ryder Music Ltd

The principal concept of banking is the lending and borrowing of money. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the musical collaboration between former city banker Martyn Shone and MTV assistant director Lindsey O’Mahoney comprises various guitar riffs, lyrics and visuals borrowed from what the pop-rock archives of the iconic music television channel itself. Originally released last November, Honey Ryder’s debut album Rising Up has all the makings of commercial success. Funded using a unique financial investment model and with two top 40 singles behind them, the band faces the prospect of ‘profitable, sustainable growth’.

Not very rock and roll, you might say. Unless you were ex-Euromeister General Terry Wogan, who describes the duo as “mean, moody and magnificent”. Fair comment if you are fondly remembering the days when the likes of Slash and Richie Sambora stood in wide, guitar-thrashing stances, grating out a muted solos in arid desert or mountain landscapes; Shone’s retro nod to the man-and-nature epic being staged on what appears to be a Greek hillside complete with wind turbines in the visual offering of second single ‘Fly Away’. The band’s investors will no doubt be hoping that Honey Ryder’s latest single, a cover of little-known Roy Orbison track ‘Love In Time’, will boost sales of this slick but ultimately derivative album.

Joanne Gibson
UK release date: 22/06/09; www.myspace.com/honeyrydertheband



Laura Jansen
Single Girls EP •••½
MillieBean Music

One for the more sensitive sisters of Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’, half-Dutch singer-songwriter Laura Jansen makes sweetly dispositioned piano-pop that has seen her star lurch fully into the ascendant among the Hotel Café scene in Hollywood where she more than holds her own with the likes of Ingrid Michaelson and the similarly good-natured Meiko. Having moved to Los Angeles from Holland four years ago to pursue her musical dreams, Jansen self-released her debut EP Trauma in 2007 and has adopted the same approach for this second bite at the cherry.

Beautifully produced by Bill Lefler (Ingrid Michaelson, Low Vs. Diamond) and featuring guest vocals from Butterfly Boucher and Cary Brothers, the Single Girls EP offers a pop pick me up that sets off smart and witty lyrics against Jansen’s pixie-like, sorrow-tinged voice. Most of the songs dabble in the post-breakup reclamation of self-identity and lyrics like “One more glass of wine before I turn off the lights / this time I’ll be fine” will no doubt resonate with many, and would make the likes of Lene Marlin proud. ‘Wicked World’ stands out from the pack with a bolder, more playful vocal and quirky lyrics that put Jansen firmly in the Regina Spektor camp. With Universal Music in Holland set to release a full-length album next month, compiling tracks from Jansen’s EPs and adding some extras, expect her profile on this side of the Atlantic to rise and rise. Jansen came close to quitting once, but the songwriting skill and apparent confidence that buoys this five-track taster gives off the sense that she won’t be stopping any time soon.

Claire Robinson
UK release date: 12/06/09; www.myspace.com/laurajansen


1 Comment so far
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Thank you kindly. What a lovely review :)

Comment by laura jansen

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