Wednesday, 27 February 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: Katie Spencer - Weather Beaten : Self-released (Out March 1st)

Greater minds than the average Joe have lauded the guitar playing skills of Katie Spencer, but you do not need to ascend to aficionado status to know that you are listening to something special. This applies to seeing her play live on an increasing number of dates that are beginning to grow as her star shines brighter on the folk and acoustic network, or at least listening on record. The latter is set to take off in new directions with the release of a debut full-Length album. WEATHER BEATEN is just the fillip Katie Spencer needs to broaden a horizon that is starting to branch out more from her Humberside base.

Previously, there was the GOOD MORNING SKY EP which started to open doors for Katie with its five tracks leaving the desired effect of the listener wanting more. Now the output has doubled, the promise moves a lot further down the road to fulfillment. From start to finish, the 38-minute playing time takes the listener on a mesmerising journey, while encapsulating them in a chilled out evocative zone. Choose the listening mode at your leisure, as this album gains traction whether you are on your daily commute or find a relaxing few moments when the rest of life can park up.

Katie Spencer largely comes across as a lone operator as this spills out from the ten tracks. Nine have their writing and arrangement credited to Katie on her own, with the tenth a solely arranged traditional song. The latter appears to be a local tale titled ‘Spencer the Rover’, mainly deduced from Yorkshire references in the words and not any family connection. There are three other musicians credited with working on the album, with the most prominent of these being occasional flute and clarinet interludes to break up the incessant, yet compulsive guitar input.

For those who like to absorb their minds in song lyrics, the musings of Katie will prompt many strands of head scratching thought. Extremely metaphorical and frequently pure poetry, interpretations to the listener can be quite abstract, but without doubt, inspirations and meaning will likely surface in the live setting. Some tracks are quite minimalist in their whole presentation such as opening number ‘Incense Skin’, while the most profound message found in her writing exists in ‘You Came Like a Hurricane’. This song has featured in her sets for a while and probably ranks alongside ‘Hello Sun’ as the two songs to spearhead the album, although this record is not necessarily a contest to pitch tracks ahead of one another. Either way, analysis of light and dark in the latter makes this personifying tilt an intriguing listen.

After many plays a light bulb moment occurred during album closer ‘The Hunter’, with serious thoughts turning to how much of this record sounds like Laura Marling at her transfixing best. Moody vocals blending with deft guitar playing resulting in a haunting mellowed haze easing from art creator to art receiver with very little in between.  The baton of Katie Spencer’s WEATHER BEATEN now passes to you.