Elspeth Anne Macrae - Wood Closet Songs

Owain Paciuszko 09/11/2008

Rating: 4/5

Opening with a manically strummed guitar accompanied by Elspeth's sputtering vocals there's a frantic, emotional shadow that darkens this otherwise tender and fragile record. Macrae is an extremely talented singer-songwriter from near Hereford (home to some other amazing artists such as Those Gay Hippies and Toby Wainwright-Johns), and this debut EP is a burning beacon of her ability.

There's something distinctly gypsy-punk about Macrae's style, and one can imagine finding her sound emmanating from a candlelit tent at some obscure folk festival, and Macrae surrounded by a huddle of wide-eyed, fascinated onlookers. Tracks such as 'The Edge of the Forest' with their whirlpooling guitar-line, twisting knotted lyrics about broken love and eerie backing vocals have all the charm and creak of a Jan Svankmajer animation, all twigs and cloth puppets.

There's wry lightness within the darker aspects of Macrae's bittersweet songs, on the janglingly triumphant 'Clumsy Hands' we find Macrae relieved that at least she's not 'stupid like you and all your stupid customs', yet bemoaning the sun and begging it to 'please stop illuminating the inside of my head!'

Macrae is an enormously talented young musician and hopefully this EP will mark the start of a very interesting and long career, and hopefully she will be found playing many obscure (and not so obscure!) folk festivals in years to come.