Sonic Unyon Records
A Deeply Warm and Emotionally Satisfying Release.
“Aptronym: a name that is aptly suited to its owner.”
I first came across the beautifully named Evangeline Gentle when the folks at the fine Static Roots Festival in Germany announced that she’d been booked for the 2020 festival.
In hunting out her recordings to listen to, I discovered there wasn’t a great deal that I could easily find beyond YouTube, so I was delighted to hear of this eponymous release, bringing ten tracks that make a clear statement of emotional intent.
The organic, warm feeling of the album is apparent from the opening “Drop My Name” where a Stevie Nicks-esque vocal placed in an arrangement that makes intelligent use of space and dynamics declares that “I’m Nobody’s Friday’s Flame” in a strong stance about being emotionally used.
The positivity contained across the album glows through every track – not in a twee way, but in a strong, optimistic and hopeful belief that it’s a better way to live this life – ideas which are given voice on “Ordinary People” which states that
“it’s brave to be hopeful in this world/it’s brave to be kind”
– something which is achieved through personal connection.
The idea that “life softens when we touch” is underscored with sensitive use of banjo and swelling strings and keys.
The notion of personal physical/emotional connection is furthered on “Sundays” where Evangeline sings;
“I don’t wanna spend all my days alone”
“I want you in the kitchen with the lights on”
which reminds us to take our in-between days and to get loving value from them.
The physical/emotional connection is queried on the following catchy track “Even If” where
“I’m sick of my own mind” and ”Lust is almost never love”.
Ultimately though, there’s only one person to make sense of these feelings “I’ve got no-one to blame/I sure as hell can’t blame you”.
The track “So It Goes” deals more with speculative memories, rather than the speculative present set to a fragile and human guitar with squeaks and rubs from the frets – even the one bit of electronic percussion has the feel of a fallible ‘real player’ – and begs the most romantic of questions to these ears
“Do you think of me when Springsteen is on the radio?”
The soulful “The Strongest People Have Tender Hearts” is a mid-album manifesto with Gentle’s tender yet strong-edged vocal at the fore, stating that “Graciousness is where to start” and “The happiest people have tender hearts.”
Amen to that.
“Long Time Love” makes me wonder whether Taylor Swift was peeking over Evangeline Gentle’s shoulder when recording her recent lauded “folklore” album – phased keys leave room for the vocal, framed by reverby-strings affirming that
“I don’t need a sign”
“to know you’ll be the long time love- er of mine”.
The picked, chirpy guitar of “Neither Of Us” is the backing to the investigation into the fact that
“Trust is a scary thing”…
but in the current moment
“neither of us are running”
it’s the certain uncertainty of a relationship – glorious bitter-sweet melody too.
The brushed snare and tender crumble of the vocal on “Digging My Grave” doubly emphasise the fragility of being caught in a relationship where
“I’ll do anything she asks me”
knowing that when you fall for someone, you have to live with the consequences. The duality of the “burn me” line underlines the co-existence of sweetness and pain.
The album ends after a four count-in with “Good and Guided” Guitar, banjo and piano take the title a clause further
“How do we become good and guided – by the heart?”
although “the heart and the mind are in some way divided” she realises that “I’ve found myself unguarded and I’ve found that love is there”.
The duality and opposing forces are there throughout the album, but the power of positive humanity and love are always at the fore, both in the playing and recording; which is intimate and sensitively arranged and in the lyrical conclusions drawn.
Back to that word “Aptronym” – Evangeline Gentle’s name contains elements of independence, strength, romance and tenderness – and on this eponymous release all those qualities are in abundance to form a deeply warming and immensely satisfying whole.
Review by Nick Barber
Released 21st August 2020