Review: Woodpecker Wooliams - Diving Down (2009)


woodwool_ddartist: Wood­pecker Woo­liams
release: Diving Down
format: CD
year of release: 2009
label: Autumn Fer­ment
dur­a­tion: 35:25

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

Scot­tish label Autumn Fer­ment seems to be going strong, and this imprint deliv­ers its best album to date with Wood­pecker Woo­liams’s Diving Down, a mighty fine piece of mod­ern exper­i­mental folk.

The woman behind this pro­ject is one Gemma Wil­li­ams,  hail­ing from Brighton in the UK. Apart from an excel­lent voice at the high end of the spec­trum, she brings a well-chosen and ori­ginal instru­mentarium to the table. Harp seems to be a staple instru­ment in many tracks - mak­ing com­par­is­ons with Joanna New­som slightly rel­ev­ant - but we’ve also  recorder, cla­ri­net, quirky per­cus­sion and a slightly sur­pris­ing yet pleas­ant amount of drones.  Not to men­tion the often under­es­tim­ated uses of beer bottles filled with vary­ing quant­it­ies of liquid! In short, a sound that fits in tightly in today’s new weird folk cur­rent, without ever run­ning the danger of being too con­ven­tional.

Tech­nic­al­it­ies aside, though, Diving Down is simply an excel­lent album. Wil­li­ams writes ori­ginal and at times touch­ing lyr­ics, and presents them over com­pos­i­tions that are tra­di­tional and famil­iar, yet presen­ted in the proper fash­ion: folk the evolves with the times, chan­ging tra­di­tions that have a shift­ing but pro­found core. A sea shanty like the title track should be proof enough.

Lines of con­nec­tion lead­ing to other women in mod­ern folk music present them­selves at times, and deserve to be men­tioned. The some­what dark and mel­an­cholic touches that are present in this album will cer­tainly appeal to those who are fond of Marissa Nadler’s style, but in gen­eral I think this album will be enjoyed by any­one who is fond of strong female artists in today’s scene. Hell, there’s even some Kate Bush in here.

Con­sid­er­ing this is her debut album, I’d say she delivered an excel­lent work that’s highly enjoy­able in itself, without refer­ring to all those other artists. If you enjoy well-written and well-played mod­ern folk, do check out this release. It’s highly prom­ising and this lady deserves a big audi­ence.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Put A Bird (4:33)
2. The Lam­ent­able Love Of The Baro­meter (2:07)
3. Perm (2:22)
4. Diving Down (5:00)
5. Out Walk­ing (3:58)
6. I Shot You (3:00)
7. In Your Mouth (4:43)
8. Threads (2:36)
9. Wife (7:06)

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