Rachel Sermanni’s third LP sees the Scottish singer-songwriter largely turning away from the dirty guitars that peppered 2015’s Tied To The Moon for a smoother, more grown-up outing, shifting the focus onto her arresting, intimate voice. So It Turns, the record Sermanni herself calls ‘folk-noir’ (it lives up to the label) was produced by Axel Reinemer and has been in the can for three years. Good things come to those who wait of course and, thankfully, So It Turns is now seeing the light of day via an independent release.
The unassuming fingerpicking of opener ‘Put Me In The River’ unfolds into a six-minute epic which bewitches by stealth, adorned with light-touch atmospherics. Sermanni’s vocal is both deep and frail - halfway between Feist and Lisa Hannigan - and the song’s eventual climax is a masterclass in less-is-more. ‘See You’ is lighter, daydreamier but no less tender as it perfectly maps the dizziness of a love at its beginnings, while the song’s opposite, the regretful ‘Wish I Showed My Love’, is more solemn in its delivery and well served by a stark solo guitar accompaniment.
Sermanni revisits some of the edgier elements from her sophomore release in the middle of the record: the slapped percussion, hefty kick-drum and scraped electric guitars of ‘What Can I Do’ providing an ominous, despair-ridden break from the velvet of the record’s opening half. It also serves as a good bridge across to the mid-century chanson that is ‘Typical Homegirl’ before the folk fingerpicking of ‘Come To You’ sees normal acoustic service resume.
Arguably, the album’s hidden gem is the hypnotic ‘Namesake’, which drips with ethereal backing vocals and jazz-splashings, walking the line between acoustic bliss and musical mystique. This mystique is carried forward with the more experimental clankings of ‘Tiger’ (if you cut your record with a jazz producer in Berlin then this is what you get, obviously) before the record closes with the reflective title track ‘So It Turns’, which perfectly captures the sweetness and sorrow of an album that doesn’t shout for attention but nonetheless deserves to be heard. Rachel Sermanni’s raw vocal purity and understated songcraft are coupled so delicately yet so clearly here, it makes you wonder whether a great record really needs anything else.
Review by Rich Barnard
Rachel will be touring in support of ‘So It Turns’ with the following dates in 2019:
11th Sep - Aberdeen, The Blue Lamp
12th Sep - Inverness, Eden Court
13th Sep - Stirling, The Tollbooth
19th - 22nd Sep - Shetland (Songwriting Festival)
27th Sep - Galway, The Black Gate
28th Sep - Dublin, Lost Lane
2nd Oct - Album Launch - Glasgow, St Andrews in the Square
10th Oct - London, St Pancras Church
11th Oct - Husthwaite Village Hall
12th Oct - Bury, The Met
13th Oct - Kingskerswell Parish Church
19th Oct - Durham, The Old Launderette