She’s come a long way since becoming a household name as the voice of the John Lewis Christmas advert and synonymous with teary eyes across the nation. Remember the sad-looking snowman? Yeah, I’m welling up too.
But fast forward five years and Gabrielle Aplin is bringing back her signature lilting style with her stunning, new four-track EP Avalon.
The EP’s lead single ‘Waking Up Slow’ is perfectly summed up by its accompanying music video, in which her eclectic style, both in voice and fashion are captured – think pink satin, heavy glitter and bold metallic.
The haunting vocals we associate with her rendition of ‘Power Of Love’ are clear from the first note and as the song progresses, you can feel her transition to a new pop-centric style. The infectious chorus of “all my nights taste like gold, when I’m with you it’s like everything glows’’ makes you feel like you could be dancing in a field at a festival you’ve never been to. And this seems to be the vibe she is aiming for, with much of the video itself set in a blurry woodland, giving both the track and the visuals a slightly off-kilter feeling which is almost hypnotic.
‘Say Nothing’ follows suit and draws on influences from the EP’s opening track, with a similar electropop feel and soft, but powerful vocals. Lyrics like “tell me it was a mistake, tell me how your heart breaks” suggests Aplin is writing in hindsight of a broken relationship.
There’s a sense of underlying desperation in the song, however, that sets it apart from ‘Waking Up Slow’. Lyrics like “twist the truth” and ‘‘it meant nothing anyway’’ hint that she has experienced a partner being unfaithful, and when paired with a heavier drumbeat, ‘Say Nothing’ acts as the perfect breakup song.
‘Used To Do’ keeps the tempo high, but it feels sweeter and softer thanks to the gentle picking of a guitar in the verses, and Aplin’s effortless sound is as feel-good as the other three tracks on this EP – even if the lyrics again hint at heartbreak. This seems to be a trademark of her music; taking themes of heartbreak and broken relationships and pairing them with mesmerising lyrics make for a unique sound.
The EP’s closing song ‘Stay’ remains true to her new style, but draws more obviously from her past releases – the pace, for example, is slowed down and there’s a greater level of storytelling. “The time’s gone by on a runaway train, and I don’t know where he’s going or if he’s back again” is an example of this song being more wistful and melodic than the previous three.
Collectively, Gabrielle Aplin’s Avalon EP is an assembly of beautifully written songs which leave you with the feeling that she’s talked you through her own momentous and personal experiences – both the upbeat and the uncertain. Just be prepared to be humming each tune for the foreseeable future.
Featured Image by Ren Rox.
Words by Lois Worrow.