Tara Rice slid into my ears two months ago and her six track EP “Panorama” has been great to have whilst commuting on the train to work. It’s witchy intoxicating passive aggressive undertow has been great for calming me down but allowing me to still be vengeful with a giant laptop bag.
Opening the alternative folk sounds is “Stones” which merges acoustic guitar and tuned percussive wood blocks that layer over each other beautifully and organically. Tara’s voice has a sheen to it and an effortlessness to its whispered ways. She reminds me very much of Wendy Rule, whose Australian folk is just as organic. The track is emotive and like a journey with catchy verses. “Vampires” is a more plugged effort with a muddy bass line and electric guitar ambient effects creating a claustrophobic atmosphere as slowly Tara’s voice tightens and raises up the octaves for an unsettling tone. It was the first track of Tara’s I heard and is still probably my favourite as it’s the dark and angst riddled side to her, but it also shape shifts from rock to dark to fluffy and back again in a drop of a hat and it all makes sense. “No Harm” stays firmly in the aggressive side with noise drenched drum machines and plenty of minor chords. The chords remind me of Maple Bee and her catchy choruses. It also has some nifty production tricks that continue that haunted witch feel.
“Oh Tim” is a pretty ditty that waltz the guitar through the rat-tat-tat like an olden folk tale given the modern lyrical overhaul. It’s also got some of my favourite lyrics from the clearly troubled Tim like “In order to use your head you need to go out of your mind”. “If You Were My Monster” then takes us back to a western tinged 90’s PJ Harvey and it really lets Tara’s voice shine as well as her ability to weave hooks into a track that stick in your mind for ages. It packs a punch and holds you there as you rock out to its riff. The closer “The Emerald Horizon” is an acoustic guitar led song that has multiple layers of Tara’s vocals providing a spooky yet sultry aura to the piece. It’s got a shuffle bop to it as she sings “you’re a champagne spiritualist”.
It’s a strong start to what will hopefully be a productive and equally engaging career. This is a singer/songwriter who has carved out a really clever palette of sound and Higher Plain Music is excited to see where it goes next.