Not usually my typical musical fare, but I’ve been really enjoying this album this week. Gabrielle Aplin is possibly most well-known for her version of ‘The Power of Love’ which John Lewis used in their Christmas advert last year. I came across her music through Spotify, and thought I’d give her new album, ‘English Rain’ a listen!
Despite the title, the album has a sunny, pop-iness that goes well with a bright afternoon, shorts and t-shirts and lemonade. (Who couldn’t do with a few more of those afternoons?!) It’s hopeful in tone and style, if not always echoing that in song content. The cover artwork, incidentally, conveys this well – the rainbow umbrella catches your eye, mirroring the colour and brightness found in Aplin’s music, despite some of the more wistful, cloudy tracks that match the rainy weather.
Lyrically, there are some really nice turns of phrase – ‘We’re just a box of souvenirs’ of a broken relationship that’s seen better days. The theme and topic of many of the songs are similar – love, friendship, belonging, relationships etc. (In many ways, the usual fare…) But they’re sung in quirky style and Aplin’s voice hits some wonderful notes, harmonising well with the well-used backing vocals, especially on the track ‘Home’.
The tone of the album also has elements of the nostalgic, and Aplin’s soaring vocals invite the listener to belt out the songs with her. It gives the album a slightly indulgent feel – at least it does so for me! Because of the acoustic/folky style, these songs don’t seem to fit the term ‘ballad’, but perhaps a sort of emo-pop is being evoked – Aplin at times reminds one of a female Ed Sheeran, talking about stuff in life that’s a bit rubbish sometimes, or pretty good at others, in a typical life of comfort and relative ease. I don’t mean that to sound like a criticism – Aplin’s song-writing doesn’t have to aspire to being anything other than what it is. Presumably, she writes out of her own experience and view of the world – I’m just letting you know what to expect.
All in all, an enjoyable album, full of memorable songs that will stick in your head. To hear some samples, or download a free track, head over to Gabrielle’s website.