A more introspective Sylvan Esso.
Cate Ferris has many strings to her bow. As a singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, it means that Cate crafts pretty much every single noise and thought that arrives on her new album ‘Gyroscope’. Ferris fits in the fabulous niche of quirky alt-pop and the album shines with a wider palette of sounds at her fingertips. The album is crammed with hidden gems that fans of music such as Sylvan Esso, Imogen Heap and perhaps even Sia will love.
‘Gyroscope’ sets the mood with its chunky beats that waddle. It is a feature across the album that very few songs are fast-paced, instead, they skip and splat. Around those beats are often a range of synths, chopped up vocals occasional strings and the odd trombone and trumpet. Often unusual pop instruments pop up out of nowhere too. On the rapturous ‘Good Advice’, the organ pounding chorus is followed by dulcimer plucks in the verses. For the darker, almost Lamb’esque ‘Another Lover’ plays with a ringing phone sound from a child’s toy. Then hushed brass underscores the middle eight.
Central to the album is the expressive voice of Cate Ferris. She has such versatility in her voice that it allows her to confidently switch mood and genre at ease. ‘Trick of the Light’ has all the smoulder and smoothness of a bluesy Bond theme and Cate powers through it with aplomb. Elsewhere ‘Keep Going’ and ‘Duck & Run’ showcases her poppier side with radio-friendly hits. The sole real ballad is the closer ‘Remnants’ which revels in a softer space. It is mostly acoustic guitar and voice and it is a stunning piece. It is one of the few times the album allows a catchy riff to play out simply and the track stays memorable because of how direct it is.
You see ‘Gyroscope’ has a weird quirk, for me at least. Many songs have a simple melody hidden away and misfitted around complex production. The riff and melody are there but the songs are intentionally produced to make sure you don’t feel the full effects of them initially. Then wham – either one chorus or a bridge will decide its time to join everything up in unison. I’m not sure if it is intentional but it often feels like many songs work towards a very specific pay off. As a result, this is an album that rewards an attentive listener more than a casual radio play and so it may be initially overlooked.
Cate Ferris has created a little treasure with ‘Gyroscope’ and I hope this kickstarts a new wave of music from the talented musician. It was far too long between releases and we don’t want another Kate Bush gap on our hands! I definitely recommend this album but I recommend you listen to it fully so you can feel the song’s peaks and troughs as you’ll definitely get more out of it.
Recommended track: Good Advice
Support Higher Plain Music
Higher Plain Music is part of the Higher Plain Network – a one-man indie media project. If you like what I do, please consider supporting me via Patreon for as little as $1/£1 a month. In return, you’ll receive additional perks for supporting me, such as behind-the-scenes content and free downloads. You can also donate using PayPal. Sharing the website helps too or using the affiliate buy now links on reviews. I receive a few pence per Amazon sale. All your support will enable me to produce better content, more often. I’d love to make this a full-time media network and your support can make that happen. Thank you.