The steep sentimentality of Kate Bush’s arguably strongest album Hounds of Love changed the standards of expressive songwriting; the two-suite album, covered in a fog of layered instrumentation and lyrical seductiveness, is a sweeping curve ball of pop music and an incorruptible artistic statement. The root of the record is in the album opener ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)’, a hauntingly sensual hit single, relentless in its desire to explore the delicacies of love and loss. ‘Running Up That Hill’, led by its mechanic rhythm for Bush to spill out her brutal emotions all over, is a stepping stone of how to present the most intricate of feelings in a song format, without having to overcompensate on firepower.
Listening to Robyn Sherwell, a newcomer on the London songwriting-scene, it is easy to spot the lineage of Kate Bush’ idiomatic pop records: Sherwell has got an obvious flair for the tangled vocal performance, every breath coming off as deliberately wistful, making a great balance point for the minutiae beauty of the carefully crafted arrangements.
Citing Imogen Heap and Natasha Khan as influences, artists that have reworked the legacy of Bush throughout the last decade, there is no denying that Sherwell has found a great starting point to present the waves of her voice. The singer, originally from the island Guernsey off the coast of Normandy, has released a broad palette of songs, her latest EP Islander being her most realized work yet. Working as a sort of love-letter to her upbringing on Guernsey, the music spans the emotional connectivity of ‘Tightropes’ to the upbeat confidence of the title track.
The real stunner of the EP, though, is the imposing cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Landslide’. Here, Sherwell’s voice is stripped bare, letting the intensity of her emotions stand alone, except for the brief washes of barely-there harmonies and piano to turn the tide. The keynote in every artistic legacy, is oftentimes the statement that dares us to take a stance, carefully manipulating us to care about the sentiments presented to us. Now that Robyn Sherwell has found her stance in music, it will be interesting to see how her tide will rise in the coming years.
Robyn Sherwell’s EP Islander is now available to buy on iTunes