It seems that there are many alt-folk artists out there, musing gently on the sweetness of love and its magical quality. Genevieve Dawson, the Edinburgh-born, now London-based singer and multi-instrumentalist is not one of them – and all the better for it. Her stand-out solo work has a wry honesty and explores gritty themes, clear in her first single ‘I Am On Something’.
The single, released on the 26th July, is a taster from her upcoming EP, ‘Things My Mother Tells Me’, due this August.
Forget washy lines about longing and loss. ‘I Am On Something’ describes the intensity of having – whether that ‘something’ is the airwaves, the ecstasy of love, or any other substance for that matter – it is a brave, bold debut.
Another stand-out feature is Dawson’s vocal clarity, as rather than fading into the mix, it strikes defiantly over the drop and rise of every word – as if this is a song very much determined to express an experience.
The track opens with rhythmic guitar and the well-paced, almost triadic structure of the lines like: “I am on something, I lose all my darkness, I float,” coupled with “You take my hand, and we dance, and I feel every note.” Yet rather than giving sweet closure, these lines act as a springboard to the suggestive: “I do not feel like being good,” the closely-recorded vocals express.
This is a track telling of the intimate, secret, and even devious experiences songs often shy away from. She states “I see that you’re in it now too” and seems to half-rhyme it with ‘you’, breaking up any kind of formulaic structure and showing this is a track which takes on the turbulence of feeling. You can almost hear a smile cracking the corners of her mouth as she muses over “I do not feel like being good,” driven by the addition of bass and drum parts, before the brilliant intensity of a horn.
The varied instrumentation on this track adds to its exploratory, engaging nature. She retains the contemplation throughout of “What have we done, what have we become,” suggesting that intense feelings have led to bad experience, as highlighted in the dramatic pause before the track delves into the concept of going ‘to bed’.
The song is suggestive rather than explicit in its intensity, and highlights the power of sound – which is infused with a heady, intimate quality, sure to entice the listener. Lyrical poeticism is well placed at the end. The refrain of “I want to know what you would do if you could,” adds an imploring note to the close of the track which actually leaves it open-ended – the audience invited to reflect on the possibility of passion. It feels a little abrupt as a close, but perhaps that is part of highlighting the turbulence and travails of feeling – away from those stereotypical structures.
The debut single ‘I Am On Something’ is out now. Catch Genevieve playing live Upstairs at Ronnie Scotts on 27th July 2017.