Siobhan Wilson – Plastic Grave (4 stars)

Siobhan Wilson – Plastic Grave

New seven-track EP adds to an impressive and growing body of work from the SAY-nominated musician

Now operating from a place of complete self-sufficiency following the indefinite hiatus of Edinburgh label Song, By Toad, on which she released her Scottish Album of the Year Award-nominated record There Are No Saints in 2017, Siobhan Wilson has made a positive start to her own Suffering Fools imprint in 2019. First, in May, came the crowdfunded follow-up album The Departure; now, the year is rounded off with a seven-track EP with the breadth and cohesion of a mini-album in its own right, from which a pound of every sale will be donated to Extinction Rebellion Scotland.

Each physical copy comes (so we're told; we only have a download) in bespoke, recycled packaging handmade by Wilson herself, and in the music there is a sense of wintery regret fused with the warmth of human connection. The opening 'Theatre in Winter' surges slowly on a crisp drumbeat and a shimmering, cleanly-produced wash of strings and choral voices, over which Wilson describes 'the mortal fear of the epilogue', a sonic anaesthetic for the end of a year, a relationship or an era.

Recorded live in concert in Canada, 'Behind the Curtain' is similarly mournful in tone, but its jagged, DIY electric guitar matches the visceral nature of Wilson's description of an abusive relationship. If there's one mild criticism of these songs, it might be that Wilson's lyrics are not as distinct as they might be against the music, but set against the solo piano of 'Your Moon Has Come' (produced by Shellac's Steve Albini) the clarity of her description of a house now absent a lover is beautifully resonant.

The ambience of the album washes over 'Plastic Grave' too, albeit with a thunderous swell of electric post-rock guitar to add depth of emotion, while 'Tree Music' sidesteps unexpectedly into a string-laden instrumental piece with the elegiac spirit of old Hollywood and the poignant resonance with nature of Bjork's recent work. These are diversions in tone from a record which more usually recalls an extremely lo-fi Cocteau Twins, or Low's Christmas album.

Rounded off by the atmospheric 'Echo Location' and the short piano-and-birdsong instrumental coda 'Le Port', this record feels like a mood piece from Wilson, a snowbound interlude to an impressive and growing body of work. While the DIY resilience of self-releasing may come to be the best way for many artists, that her door hasn't been knocked on by labels with a good offer yet is unexpected.

The Plastic Grave EP by Siobhan Wilson is released on Fri 13 Dec by Suffering Fools Records. She plays a launch show with guests Alasdair Roberts, Rachel Sermanni and Stina Tweeddale (of Honeyblood) at Summerhall, Edinburgh, Sat 14 Dec.

Plastic Grave by Siobhan Wilson on Spotify

Siobhan Wilson

Franco-Scottish folk singer-songwriter, known for her heartbreaking voice and beautiful lyrics. Her debut album There Are No Saints was released in July 2017 on Song, By Toad Records.

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