Transforming yourself from being a classic singer songwriter to a one-woman band is no easy feat, but that is what Brighton's blonde musical goddess did tonight, as she celebrated the release of her Disappear EP, the start of which will hopefully be another fruitful path for this very talented singer and musician.
The result of a successful Pledge campaign, and surrounded by an array of instruments – guitar, keyboards, flute and all manner of the weird and wonderful such as a megaphone, toy guitar, various exotic percussion and even an old fashioned tape player complete with cassette! – Ferris proceeded to beguile an audience all firmly rooting for her as she initially struggled with the intricacies of the set up and the songs before she was literally flying at the end, lost in music…
Layering beats, and guitar and synth lines, and a flute on one occasion, she gently built up the songs with the use of a loop station, while overlaying her voice, creating a one-woman symphony of lush textures, electronic beats and soulful harmonics. The one exception was the song Hurricane Skies that she performed on piano, featuring just her voice, and demonstrating a command of space, dynamics and controlled expression within the heartfelt music, and which is included on the new EP.
Initially inspired by the mini-symphonic and electronic sounds of Imogen Heap, Ferris has adapted seamlessly from being an acoustic singer songwriter with the voice of an angel, but remaining one who still writes sublime and beautifully crafted songs. Since her long spell with the hip-hop jazz maestros Dizraeli & The Small Gods, Ferris has learnt to dispense with her penchant for occasionally drifting into directionless writing, instead developing her more expressive and soulful side, but now complement by a r'n'b/folktronica style, such as on the exquisite Fly, a slow burner of a song that soon glides on a hi-hat beat and and increasingly layered vocals before fading out with just her voice.
It's really her soulful and expressive singing though that she brings to the party, a voice that is inflected with R'n'B stylings, and dripping with soulful abandon, and yet at times gently theatrical such as on her inventive take of Julie Andrews Doll On A Music Box. And the gently soulful-electronica of Giants and the title track of her new EP remind us again how much of a thoroughly Modern Millie, Cate really is.
Jeff Hemmings