Monday, 28 November 2011

Abi Wade - And Blood And Air EP

Abi Wade's new EP And Blood And Air might only be four tracks long, but don't let that fool you - there's plenty of creativity crammed into its 13 minutes. It would be bordering on patronising to call it 'experimental', so instead I'll say that Abi Wade is clearly an original talent with her own ways of creating a musical experience that is both enjoyable to listen to, while also being thought-provoking. Take 'Stability' as an example, and see what you think of the live performance below...

So, what do we think? It falls roughly into that fuzzy-edged genre called 'folk', which has been enjoying a huge resurgence in the past couple of years with acts like Mumford & Sons bringing acoustic music back to the mainstream. Abi Wade might not be mainstream, but I suspect she wouldn't want to be thought of as such. She does, however, offer all of the atmosphere and commitment to the music that folk is all about, and I applaud her for that.
And Blood and Air - EP - Abi Wade

High Points

With something of this length, it's difficult to pick out good and bad points - generally, the whole thing is either good, or bad.

I'm happy to report that And Blood And Air is good. And it's well produced, too, the spatial distribution of sound on Stability in particular helping to put the listener at the heart of the music - and showing the same commitment to quality that's evident in the writing and the performance.

So as you're sitting there surrounded by sound, consider that all you're really hearing is bass to the left, vocals centre, and tambourine to the right. There's a bit more to come later in the track, which helps things to develop, but it's a truly minimalist soundscape that still manages to shut out the real world for three and a half minutes.

Like Stability, the remaining tracks deliver carefully crafted and balanced musical landscapes, with distinct instruments to focus your ear on, if that's something you like to do.

The Verdict

It's a terribly unfair criticism to make, and I usually wouldn't say this of an EP, but And Blood And Air really deserves to be an album. Another seven tracks or so, and it would be really special - the kind of album I keep close to hand, like early Leona Naess or the taken-too-young Alice Martineau.

Abi Wade has clearly put an unusual amount of love and attention into her compositions, so it seems unfortunate that the brevity of her EP means they will most likely be consigned to the middle of some longer playlist alongside lesser works by other artists.

That's the nature of music, particularly in the one-track-download age, but I implore you to get the whole EP and, whenever you can, listen to it in isolation. With luck, there'll be more from this astonishing artist in the near future, to fill out that playlist into something substantial enough to stand alone.

Final Score: 79%

And Blood and Air - EP - Abi Wade

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