Follow-up to 2017's SAY shortlisted album is fierce, confident and cinematically expansive
Much has been said about Siobhan Wilson's innate ability to captivate, her vocals possessing a sublime magnetism that captures moments and holds them close. As the follow-up to There Are No Saints from 2017, The Departure is emblematic of Wilson's evolution as an artist, possessing an urgency and indignation previously veiled below shades of tenderness.
The album's opener, and title track, has a deceptive sweetness, much like the rest of the record, with a twinkling Rhodes piano accompanying her haunting vocals. The focus is very much on the movement of the harmonies, clashing beautifully as the choral-like piece progresses towards the fuzz of next track, and lead single, 'Marry You'. The song provides a rugged blast of folk, punk and grunge, with the dichotomy between Wilson's hazy Baritone Gretsch guitar and soothing timbre continuing elsewhere. 'All Dressed Up Tonight (Better Than I Ever Did With You)', for example, has a nonchalance, combining folk vocals with shoegaze instrumentation, understated in its make-up but packed with something unexpectedly fierce.
The anthemic 'Unconquerable', with guest lyrics and vocals from Stina Tweeddale, offers a menacing call and response while album highlight 'Little Hawk' opens with a whisper, barely heard before strings weep around the vocals wistfully. A distorted guitar enters defiantly and by the end, the song's repetitive war cries become reminiscent of Live Through This-era Hole. It offers a contrast to the album's more delicate numbers, such as Wilson's take on Gainsbourg's 'Ne Dis Rien' or Barbara's 'Dis, Quand Reviendras: Tu?'.
Wilson conjures atmospheres in The Departure that are intimate and yet also cinematically expansive. She weaves darker elements more intricately than ever, with soundscapes that spiral towards the otherworldly, and melodies that transfix, effortlessly fitting varied ranges and genres with quiet confidence.
Out Fri 10 May on Suffering Fools Records.