London-based artist Gillian Maguire, or to give her stage name, MAGUIRE, follows up two impressive single releases so far in 2019 (‘Behind the Screen’ and ‘Fallible’) with her debut five track EP, Préludes. A classically trained instrumentalist from the age of sixteen, her calling card is her line in dexterous, instantly memorable piano lines that bring to mind the best of Radiohead, alongside melancholic yet powerful vocals that compare themselves to the likes of PJ Harvey and Anna Calvi.
The EP follows on with a consistent style from her former releases, leading with her latest single ‘Strangers.’ Here we have a powerful number which distils her formula from the start, a key piano refrain building around lush orchestration and ingenious percussive techniques, deftly overseen by producer Steph Marziano.
Lyrically, MAGUIRE strives for messages of real substance, reflecting on issues such as loneliness, intimacy and desire. There is nothing throwaway about her art, these are an intensely personal and introspective collection of songs . In her own words, “Strangers ponders the paradox of being intimate with a complete stranger, and explores the disparity between the real version of such a fleeting and passionate encounter and our memory of it after. The temptation to romanticise people and events raises questions about the subjective nature of reality and our perception of it, made all the more subjective when it comes to matters of the heart.”
We move into the dreamy debut single ‘Behind The Screen,’ before another new number, ‘Be Vulnerable,’ which carries on in a similar, haunting vain. “My armoured soul is chained to an ego, that won’t let go of its need to control” she sings, her otherworldly vocals bringing clarity and focus to the music, grounding it emotionally as the track stretches out sonically.
We then have another single, ‘Fallible,’ arguably the finest of the songs on display, which you can find a dedicated review for here. We end the EP with ‘Find My Way,’ which is the most stripped back and intimate of these tracks, a simple yet mesmerising piano refrain accompanies MAGUIRE’s emotionally honest vocals.
Overall, it’s a finely crafted EP, subtly experimental yet always accessible, with a keen ear for melody and emotional resonance amongst the nuanced sonic landscapes that each track builds itself around.
It’s more than likely we’ll hear plenty more from MAGUIRE in 2019 and beyond. Already in the studio with producer Liam Howe (Lana Del Rey, FKA twigs) working on future material, it’ll be interesting to hear what their collaborations will bring towards developing her sound going forward. As well as making her solo music, MAGUIRE is also one half of the ambient arthouse electronic project ‘Awkward Moments,’ along with DJ/Producer Mimi Xu, and will be performing as part of this year’s Houghton Festival in Norfolk between 8th-11th August.
MAGUIRE’s EP, Préludes is out now – available to Stream/Purchase here.