Review: Solitary Sounds EP
Artist: Em Burrows & the Bearded Rainbow
By Mae Anthony
Photo by Rachael Barrett
Em Burrows is a woman whose creative finesse knows no bounds. The woman behind the psych-folk-rock group The Lammas Tide is back on the Perth Music Scene with her new project: Em Burrows and the Bearded Rainbow.
It’s a fusion of sounds like no other. It takes psychedelic soundscapes, and combines them with alternative rock tunes, and 60s and 70s musical discourse. The rich and powerful timbres of Burrows voice, blended with the group’s instrumentation, is exemplary of what it takes to create and produce music that makes a mark. Better yet, the group’s playing is as strong as the unique compositional nature of the songs they release.
Their debut EP, Solitary Sounds, was released on 1 October. The opening track, the eponymous track of the EP, is a real time stopper. It’s dreamy and acts as a perfect introduction to the band’s sound. Ethereal organ, keyboard, and guitar lines float effortlessly over the top of a contrasting rhythmical foundation. The synthesis is simply divine, something that can only be credited to good musicianship. The first thing I noticed about the second track “Paces” is the clean and decisive vocal line that leaves much of the rhythmic diversity to the surrounding instruments: it’s an effective balance of a catchy melody, delivered in a unique layering of instrumental textures.
“Dreamers”, the third track that rests in the middle, is probably the one that I associate the most with a 70s influence. It’s the one song that contains the least graspable melodic groove. Placed well in the EP, the driving quality of the bass and drums, with smooth melodic licks, makes this track one that stands out, simply because it makes you listen to what is being said. It allows the music to leave an impression on you in a way that is more accessible amongst all of the tracks, purely because the vocal idea isn’t as prominent.
Contrary to this, a poignant rhythmic figure marks the fourth track “Weights and Measures”. “I’ve been using weights and measures to figure out what’s wrong”: a chant-like repetition of this lyric makes this track a real winner; it’s a tune that feels like it edges on the shorter side, but in reality doesn’t. It’s probably safe to say it’s another time stopper: its length, the superb playing featured and the cliché shattering rhythmical riff are superbly balanced in this song making its repetition charming and characterful.
“Timeline” is the final track that ends the EP with a bang. Filling out the already groovy textures that have been established in the previous four tunes, with a horn line. This is where the 60s/70s pop sound is most evident, other than in the fabric of the songs themselves. Up until this point Burrows’ voice, although opulent in texture and incredibly soulful, has been carried in a derisively clean fashion. In this track we hear her vocals reach a raspy, passionate peak that makes the entire climax of the EP. Once reaching the summit halfway through the track, we discover the true identity of what we’ve been waiting for.
The launch for this fantastic EP was held at Mojos Bar in Fremantle on the 21 October. It was a nearly-perfect venue for the occasion. Mojos has the kind of low-lit glow to accompany the earthiest of sounds. Nothing that speaks mellow, smothered in an air of nostalgia and age, but a somewhat fresh and hip style, adorned with the kind of polished charm that can suit all occasions.
Though only drawing a medium sized crowd, the group put on a show that got people grooving and humming along. It was the kind of well crafted music that had you singing along to songs you had never heard before, like they were great anthems of your life. They had great supporting acts, each eclectic as each other, from the smooth beats of Diger Rockwell, to the catchy tunes of Mujumba, and with Moon Puppy and Marlinspike heating things up before the final bang of the Bearded Rainbow. The solo acts playing outside also made for a unique change, giving gig-goers the opportunity to step away from the busy buzz of the front room, and take in some dignified tunes from solo acts of Emily Garlick, and Jonny Burrows (of Fox Scully).
My only drawback at this venue was the sound quality: the front bar where the main acts played wasn’t big enough to handle the sound volume, making some of Em Burrows’ incredible vocal lines borderline indecipherable. But only some, nothing along the line of spilt milk, nothing to spoil.
I would definitely check this band out: they’re exciting, fun, and down to earth. Great tunes, and a fabulous addition to the Perth Music Scene.