Once in a while, there is an album which appears rather suddenly and changes everything. Although Gabrielle Aplin has been self-releasing music for the best part of 4 years, her debut LP, English Rain, is most definitely a game changer for this pint-sized Wiltshire starlet.
Blessed with the softest of voices, one filled with raw honesty and emotion, along with an encapsulating songwriting ability, Aplin has showcased her talent through 3 EPs and endless live shows, before being signed to Parlophone. She supported Charlie Simpson and Matt Cardle during their UK tours but recently travelled out to Australia to play with another young British talent, Ed Sheeran. Very interactive with her fans, Aplin harbours support from all over the world, so her 80,000 followers and 130,000 facebook fans have been anxiously waiting for this album: and it seems as though it really has been worth the wait after all.
Amidst an ocean of mindless club bangers comes English Rain, a diamond in the rough if you will. With the charts being so full of poppers ready anthems, the genre “borecore” has quietly become prolific – artists such as Ben Howard donate their dreary and numb musical “efforts” to this trend – and whilst Gabrielle’s take on music is far from club ready, it is her gentle and subtle mixture of folk, acoustic and poppy elements which leaves such a sweet aftertaste. Borecore this is not. Her ability to evoke an array of emotions within 3 minutes is, frankly, outstanding and, much like her previous EPs, a big focus stays centred around her docile soul-penetrating voice.
Loyal fans will be pleased to see a few EP favourites gracing the album’s tracklisting: re-recorded with strings and honed vocals, all very twinkly and professional. There are, of course, reams of new songs which were only heard live or acoustically on YouTube. Aplin’s “sound” is still very prominent on this record and whilst some may say this album has been played safe, it’s more a case of gradual and casual progression from the EPs. This music is succinct and concise; a supportive label and a grounded direction means it’s consistent from start to finish. The deluxe version offers fans 3 extra songs and a mini live EP, a perfect addition to an already spectacular album. A feat unmatched by many, it sounds as though there are no filler tracks: having been writing songs and self releasing music for years. this star knew exactly what compilation of songs would come together to eventually create English Rain.
In the same vein as many female singer- songwriters, Gabrielle’s lyrics are heartfelt and emotional, raw and powerful. Often, you’ll find yourself questioning just how this Bath based 20 year old has found so much inspiration in her comparatively short time as an artist. Songs such as ‘Home‘, ‘Human‘ and ‘Evaporate‘ all offer wonderfully poetic and metaphoric lyrics, wrapped in full warm melodies. It’s difficult not to get lost in the stories of broken hearts, new love and finding yourself: English Rain is an immersive album, one which pulls you in from the first soft whisper and holds you until the final pluck of a guitar (or heart) string. Each time you listen, there’s something new to hear – a lyric to better comprehend or a layer of vocals/instruments you had glazed over before. The production is beautiful too, understandably a better quality than her previous EPs and now crystal clear.
Living up to its name, Gabrielle Aplin’s debut is both comfortable and surprising: a real affirmation of being young and in love, lost, hurt, bitter, cathartic, anxious, excited and humbled. There is something in each song which strikes a chord with the listener, be it a sense of nostalgia or perhaps even a piece of advice for a current situation. Aplin’s talent and flair reaches far beyond her years and, although there are 3 EPs behind her, English Rain is the start of a new chapter in her life, well deserved and endlessly appreciated. With an album like this, she’s humbly left behind YouTube and John Lewis adverts, and instead taken with her the experience and professionalism gained from both, resulting in a mature, contemporary effort. English Rain is a wonderful heartfelt debut and I urge you to buy it – it’s an important album.
English Rain is available on iTunes now.