Living in a city can be overbearing and oppressive. I spend a not insignificant amount of time thinking about being in a less cluttered place – somewhere the air is crisp, and where the nearest shop is a matter of miles, not minutes. This comes from a desire for simplicity and purity. It is this part of me, the sentimentalist, the daydreamer, and the reluctant urbanite that so enjoys Rachel Sermanni.
At the moment it is very fashionable to write songs that romanticise the country. Fair maidens are in vogue, fields are cooler than tower blocks, and agrarian life is better. The trouble is that most of the songs that are written on the subject are done so by youngsters who live in London. This means that instead of telling you about how lovely village life is, they are inviting you into their fantasy, to share their longing for a plain life. I get this, and I do sympathise with the sentiment, but it is fantasy. When you listen to Rachel Sermanni there is a sense of being included in the thoughts and expressions of something a bit more real, more genuine. It is this that makes her songs so good, and what makes her so appealing a person.
She has just released Everything Changes EP, and I have to say that I think it is the best thing she has done. Opening track Everything Changes is an immediately relatable song that examines the passage of life and its difficult inevitabilities. Two birds leads you down a darker path, with deep and ominous piano strikes, and higher twinkling keys that almost feel horror movie like. The sun comes back out for Lay-Oh – a mandolin led love-song that you’ll do well not be taken away by. “I’m going to lay heavy in your arms” she sings, and you can’t help but feel a sense of ease and familiarity. The EP ends with Blackhole, which is more playful – helped by the vocals sounding like they’re being sung down an old fashioned telephone. It’s an oxymoronic confusion of intelligently penned lyrics that will twist you around yourself and leave you happily baffled.
It is the easiest thing in the world to pronounce an artist’s latest release a product of maturation, or to say that they have grown up, found themselves, or become more comfortable. I’ll therefore try not to. In this latest EP I think that Sermanni has got her sound absolutely right. In terms of production I think that this is her best record yet, and matched with songs that remove me from the sirens, street lamps and crowds of the city, it makes for a transportative and uplifting moment of respite.
Here is a live video of Lay-Oh that The Boatshed filmed.