‘The Quiet Kind’ from Hannah Ashcroft offers so much more than the title suggests – it is the opportunity to journey through sound.
After two years of touring Australia, Manchester-based Ashcroft has returned with her debut EP. The opening track, ‘Tourists’, captures lived experience through a sashaying rhythm of acoustics, beginning with a bass drum breaking into a steady beat. It is the ability to combine beat and intricate guitar which makes Ashcroft’s indie-folk sound so rewarding; avoiding the lack of structure which is sometimes the pitfall to tracks of this genre.
‘Tourists’ takes the listener by the ear and into an intimate instance of ‘people watching’ so to speak, as her vocals build to the chorus line “Watch the tourists come and go through walls of solid stone.” Clever half-rhymes and clear vocals highlight her skill.
‘Win Your Favour’ is a fitting second track, maintaining the momentum of travel through a rousing acoustic opening and snapping drumbeat. This one is toe-tapping, it makes your body move, as if acting out the lyrics “You shook my defences.” The direct address and further imagery of “fighting battles” in this track allows the listener to reflect on a journey many of us may have experienced; the journey through love, longing and the fear of loss.
Poignant guitar strings, which remind me a little of the acoustic power of Passenger, begin the track ‘Neptune’, caressing notes that give way to a dramatic use of cymbals. This way, the listener is lured into a sense of security and then has their emotions shaken up. Ashcroft’s vocal reflections add to the immersion, with intense imagery “Look what you left behind / The hybrid of something divided.” Again, as heard in the first track, Ashcroft uses rhyme to her advantage, giving her tracks the depth that indie-folk sometimes misses.
‘The Quiet Kind’ is the title track of the EP and yet is positioned fourth in the tracklisting – cleverly so. Linkages can be heard with the first track thanks to the shared use of strings, whilst Ashcroft maintains the clarity of her vocals. Lyrics such as “Give me a reason / Drop me a line” backed with beautiful acoustic emphasise her ability to explore emotions of the everyday with rich sound. She turns what we may think as the most trivial of frustrations into things worth thinking about, considering, coming to peace with.
What I notice in particular is the loaded turns-of-phrase which keep her lyricism alive; “In all the confusion take a wrong for right” and “When the liar strikes” just some examples. How we interact with language and use it for intimacy seems to be a key theme of this EP, as summarised by the closing track ‘A Word to The Wise’.
It opens with a splash of guitar, closely-recorded and possibly the most intimate of the tracks, fingers squeaking on the fret. “Take me back to river / Where it all began” starts the soundscape, the drag of skin against wood adding its own kind of tune, a semi-mournfulness. This is music to reflect to and explore; surely what the best journeys are all about. Recorded in Melbourne, but resonating far beyond.
Hannah Ashcroft’s EP ‘The Quiet Kind’ is out now. Purchase a copy from Bandcamp here.