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LICE – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton
LICE

The Hope & Ruin, Brighton
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The Magic Numbers

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Amber Run – Green Door Store
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Green Door Store, Brighton
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Album Reviews

Bryde - Like An Island

Bryde – Like An Island

Sarah Howells has been around the block a couple of times already. The Welsh-raised, London-based singer/songwriter enjoyed a stint with folk-pop-rock duo Paper Aeroplanes, along with Richard Llewellyn, releasing four albums and enjoying some minor success without quite breaking through.

With that band on hiatus, Howells took the name Bryde (a Danish word, which means 'to break'), set up her own label Seahorse Music, with the aim of releasing her own music and that by like-minded women, and started exploring themes of independence, liberation, and relationships. Moreover, she ditched the acoustic and fell in love again with an electric (which is what she began with), as well as one of those warm toned valve amplifiers. Last year she played The Great Escape, with queues around the block to witness a re-born Bryde.

So, yes, Like An Island is a release, a form of therapy for Howells, who has a bit of a self-described emo trait, but which she corrals to both pulverising and tender effect throughout. Seemingly not shy in coming forward, Like An Island is full of autobiographical vignettes, one liners, heart-on-sleeve songs that veer from the hard and viscerally rocking, to atmospheric balladry, with emotional health almost always at the forefront. Such as on lead track 'To Be Brave', which begins with: "You pinch your cheeks, bring back the colour", before taking us on a semi-epic journey, where the sentiments about putting on a brave face (rather than necessarily facing up to issues) in the face of adversity are matched by the strong and rhythmic music: “These are the screenshots, this is the vision we lived / To keep on smiling, to keep on smiling through it / When you’ve got nothing, when you’ve got nothing to give / Turn up the filter, don’t admit it,” Howells sings with passion.

The ghosts of Tori Amos, Skunk Anansie, PJ Harvey, Alanis Morrisette, and even Fleetwood Mac inform the background influences to Like An Island, with Bryde employing a basic set-up of guitar, bass and drums (with the odd piano). Album highlight 'Less' is a mix of barely coiled turmoil, which unleashes itself for the ferociously rocking chorus (a quiet-loud template for much of the album), while 'Fast Awake' has a much less musically angsty post-punk feel, riding along a stuttering drum beat, repetitive finger picked guitar and bass, in poetically detailing the push and pull of life and living. Then, 'Handstands' takes a peak down a swamp-blues lane with Howells’ expressive yet beautifully controlled voice proving once again to be quite the soulful thing. The final two tracks on the album, the raw and stripped back balladry of 'Transparent', and the fragile, finger-picked bass of 'Steady Heart', only serve to demonstrate what a voice, and what a talent Bryde is; the underplayed optimism of the latter pointing to an inner strength and belief, that should stand her in good stead for the future: "Cause far beyond the chaos there's a calm, steady, steady, heartbeat".

Jeff Hemmings

Website: brydemusic.com
Facebook: facebook.com/brydeofficia
Twitter: twitter.com/brydeofficial


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