|Bones + Longing|
Gemma Hayes — Bones + Longing
*¬ Irish folk–rock singer–songwriter whose 2002 debut was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize.
Born: 1978 in County Tipperary, Ireland
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Album release: 17/11/2014**
Record Label: Chasing Dragons/Membrane Records (GER, AUT & SUI), Warner Bros
01 Laughter 4:54
02 Dreamt You Were Fine 3:24
03 Iona 3:59
04 Joy 3:11
05 Dark Moon 2:58
06 Palomino 3:43
07 To Be Your Honey 3:34
08 Chasing 5:01
09 Making My Way Back 4:25
10 Caught 2:30
11 Bones + Longing 3:37
Limited Vinyl Edition 2015:
12 "The Shit I Own [Bonus Track]" 2:14
13 "Slowdive [Bonus Track]"
14 "Swimming In The Flood [Bonus Track]"
℗ 2014 Chasing Dragons
*¬ All tracks written by Gemma Hayes.
*¬ Artwork for the album was revealed on September 20, 2014. The artwork was designed by Humphrey Bangham.
*¬ Gemma Hayes — vocals, guitar, piano, arrangement, producer, programming, bassline programming, vocal arrangement, voice arrangement
*¬ David Odlum — producer, engineer, guitar, synth, beats, bass and vocals
*¬ Romy — keys, synths and vocals
*¬ Mark Stanley — Guest drummer on 'Iona'
*¬ Simon Long — Manager & Photography
*¬ Pip — Photography
*¬ Jayne Gould — Design
*¬ Humphrey Bangham — Artwork
*¬ Irish Album Chart #38
*¬ Irish iTunes Album Chart #10
*¬ Irish Indie Album Chart #4
Review scores/ Source ::: Rating:
*¬ MOJO 4/5 stars
*¬ Hot Press 9/10 stars
*¬ RTÉ Ten
*¬ ABC Music Reviews 4.5/5 stars
*¬ Drowned In Sound 8/10 stars
*¬ The Arts Desk 4/5 stars
*¬ The Irish Times 4/5 stars
*¬ State Press 3.5/5 stars
* November 14, 2014 (Republic of Ireland)
* November 17, 2014 (UK & North America)
* February 2, 2015 Vinyl Edition
* March 2, 2015 International
* March 6, 2015 Germany
Recorded: April 2013 — June 2014 in Dublin, Noyant–la–Gravoyère and London
By MATT LANGHAM, November 18th, 2014; Score: 8
*¬ Gemma Hayes fans will do a double take as Bones + Longing whirs into life, and may check the correct file/CD/slab of wax is playing. Opener ‘Laughter’ sounds uncannily familiar… then click — it’s literally ‘There’s Only Love’ from 2011’s Let It Break. Recycling’s always shaky musical ground, especially around this time of the year as the market floods with errant balladry designed to keep Cowell’s pet blue whale in krill. Still, disposable dreck is one thing; it’s a bit odd when a serious singer–songwriter opens a fifth record with a cover of themselves. Maybe the creative flame has puttered out?
*¬ Not so: Hayes is making amends. She deftly recasts the original’s sub–Snow Patrol slog via thoughtful, considered layering — drifting shoegaze guitars, insistent ride cymbal, flecks of synth and a buried, suggestive vocal wheeling beautifully out of the gorse. Voila; the pedestrian becomes the tantalising, lyrics glimpsed through the autumnal furze. It’s a perfect, and somewhat surprising, opening gambit for a record of brave self–assessment.
*¬ ‘Laughter’ remains a shade tentative, feet carefully placed among slick leaves, but reinvention’s an aim without an obvious path. It’s the collision that discrepancy provides that ultimately gives the record its impetus as Hayes takes stock. ‘Sometimes the magic is deadened by trying to record a perfect version of a song,’ she said of the process. ‘My aim was to make sure each song had a spark.’
*¬ She quickly finds them. ‘Iona’ and ‘Joy’ are shot through with a wintry post–punk thrum, sloping Cure bass lines coiling around frosty guitar, building static and gentle white noise. Divested of the acoustic dazzle that was previously her hallmark her voice hangs brightly, floating on updrafts of guitar like dust motes in sunlight. ‘Chasing’ clatters along on flinty drum machine and creepy synths, and the dreamy, twilit escapism of ‘Palomino’ has a worming melody delivered with a voice like wind–whipped wheat. There’s real thoughtfulness throughout; simple arrangements that nonetheless retain delicious details.
*¬ With it, her voice is reaffirmed, beginning with the declarative, head–above–the–parapet confession from ‘Dreamt You Were Fine’: “I’ve got a lot I want to say to you / so sit yourself down in an easy chair.” Written when pregnant with her first child, the record is a meditation on change, rather than just the old permutations of love. Its restless introspection on death, birth and ageing revels in loss. The portentous ‘Dark Moon’ finds a storm approaching and ‘Making My Way’ — where the reintroduced acoustics feel fresh again — draws solace from disaster: “I needed some kind of wreckage”.
*¬ The result is a real mood piece: dusky quiet at times, scarily frayed at others, but also safe and welcoming. Its arresting threads frequently coalesce, smart and smarting with exquisite sorrow. The voyeuristic ‘To Be Your Honey’ is probably the highlight. *¬ Recorded as if eavesdropping on a confession of asphyxiating romance (”your love is like a tourniquet wrapped so tightly around my chest”) at a room’s remove, the painful content is set against capacious arpeggios and tender strings. It is reinvention realised, pivoting Hayes’ oeuvre as the album does her career as the desperate now gnaws at the saccharine to find a medium of sweet, gentle sadness.
*¬ Hayes should be commended for her approach considering her career had slid into the safe — encompassing the sniffy, pejorative sense of the term. The record doesn’t quite dethrone her debut, Mercury–nominated Night On My Side, as her best collection but she’s mined her craft to uncover her most sensitive and compelling arrangements yet.
*¬ More than that, her songs shudder with neurotic self–involvement for the first time. Bones + Longing is obviously made achingly and entirely for herself but, paradoxically, that makes it universal. An album of depth and texture, it repays time and attention; many will want to inhabit its hushed privacy. Hayes escaped music in the past, most notably for two years following her debut, but having deconstructed her sound and pushed its envelope, as in the shimmering instrumental closer, let’s hope she continues exploring her dark side. :: http://drownedinsound.com/
Tony Clayton–Lea, Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 16:00; Score: ****
*¬ Forever pitched (simplistically, if not condescendingly) as “Ireland’s alt.rock sweetheart”, Tipperary’s Gemma Hayes has flitted around the edges of mainstream acceptance for over 10 years, but for various reasons that killer song (of which she has many) refuses to hit home.
*¬ Her fifth album is yet another collection of lovely, woozy tunes, but this time around she is much tougher in thought and deed.
*¬ Songs such as Dreamt You Were, To Be your Honey, Dark Moon and Palamino are drenched in sonambulent pop/shoegaze–like textures that mix the dreamy with the spooky, and overall there’s a sense that Hayes has become weary of the perception of her as a “sweetness and light” singer–songwriter.
*¬ Such an approach (which comes across as natural and not at all strategic) suits her well. :: http://www.irishtimes.com/
Artist Biography by Dave Donnelly
*¬ It was sheer force of will, and no little talent, that bought Irish singer/songwriter Gemma Hayes her first record deal with French electro imprint Source Records, as the singer had spent the best part of half a decade working and performing around the capital's premier music venues. While her debut EPs were relatively spare and folksy affairs, her label's legacy came to bear on subsequent recordings, where Hayes demonstrated a proclivity for chilled electronics and swampy, My Bloody Valentine–style shoegaze effects alongside the subdued melancholy of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. This cross–genre appeal would see Hayes mentioned regularly alongside female contemporaries Beth Orton and PJ Harvey and earn her a Mercury Music Prize nomination in 2002.
*¬ Gemma Hayes was born into a musical family with seven siblings in the secluded village of Ballyporeen, Tipperary, in the southwest of Ireland. The claustrophobia of small–town life on the one hand and boarding school on the other led Hayes to immerse herself in music and poetry as a teenager. Enrolling at university in Dublin upon graduation, Hayes took up the guitar and continued writing. Eventually, she made the decision to drop out of college and pursue music full–time, supporting herself by working at a launderette and performing solo gigs around the city by night. Assembling a band to flesh out her sound, Hayes was approached by EMI's dance music imprint Source Records and signed a multi-album deal in 2001. She was just 23 years old.
*¬ That same year saw the release of Hayes' first EP, entitled 4.35 AM, which along with 2002's Work to a Calm saw the singer tentatively dip her feet into the world of recording. Interest in the EPs was sufficient to create a buzz for her debut album. Turning down the opportunity of working with the label's preferred producer, Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck), Hayes instead chose to work with Mercury Rev's Dave Fridmann and her then–boyfriend, Dave Odlum (Kíla, the Frames). Fridmann's influence allowed her to realize the shoegaze and noise rock textures that the EPs had only hinted at. The resulting album, Night on my Side, was released in the U.K. and Ireland in May of 2002, charting at number eight in her home country and in the U.K. Top 100. A slightly reworked version of the album was released in the U.S. the following April.
*¬ Night on my Side proved a critical success, and it was just edged out by Ms. Dynamite's A Little Deeper in the race for 2003's Mercury Music Prize. Yet Night on my Side had proved neither the commercial nor artistic success that the artist had planned, and Hayes decided to take an extended hiatus from the music business before planning her next move. In the meantime, she co–wrote the track "Hazy" with Adam Duritz for Counting Crows' 2003 live album, New Amsterdam. Duritz expressed his appreciation by referencing Hayes in the lyrics of a track entitled "Washington Square" from the 2008 album Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings.
*¬ Hayes returned in 2005 and, with the help of Joey Waronker (Beck), self–produced The Roads Don't Love You. Lead single "Undercover" was co–written with Jellyfish supremo Roger Manning, Jr., piercing the Irish Singles Chart at number 38 and hitting number 60 in the U.K., while noted influence Lisa Germano added guest violin to the album. The Roads Don't Love You was an overall more accessible effort than its predecessor, and it reached number 13 in the Irish Album Chart, but it wasn't enough to dissuade Source from canceling her contract the following year.
*¬ The Hollow of Morning In late 2006, the now Los Angeles–based Hayes announced that she would work on a third album with Dave Odlum. To be released on her own specially created Gemma Hayes Music label, The Hollow of Morning took over a year to create, a torturous process that was more akin to guest producer Kevin Shields (of My Bloody Valentine) than Hayes. Other producers included Bell X1 frontman Paul Noonan and singer/songwriter Joe Chester. The Hollow of Morning debuted at number 12 in the Irish Album Charts upon its release in May of 2008. A worldwide release with Nashville indie label ATC Records followed later that month. :: http://www.allmusic.com/
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|Bones + Longing|