Deerful – Peach

Deerful – Peach

Courtesy of the ever excellent Where It’s At Is Where You Are imprint comes Peach, the debut album from Deerful (AKA Emma Winston). Having begun songwriting a mere two years ago, this album – following on from a clutch of intriguing singles and EPs – demonstrates that Winston, once stirred, gets seriously into the job. Moreover, Peach definitely has the fresh feel of rapid evolution.

Justifiable attention was given to 2016’s single Moon Maps, a gloriously emotionally engaging voyage of inner discovery, melodically reminiscent of the (briefly) sublime Strawberry Switchblade, and arguably the definitive Deerful song. While there’s nothing on this album to quite top that high mark Peach is a thoroughly engaging set of songs; thematically coherent, varied in mood and always – the Winston hallmark – heart-on-sleeve and honest-to-the-bone.

Musically, we’re firmly in synth-pop territory, of an appealingly DIY form, produced according to Winston herself on synths ‘that are small enough to use on a bus’. To the ears of someone of my generation this means that, tonally, it’s reminiscent of the ground breaking Yellow Magic Orchestra, which can never be a bad thing. There is also both a delicacy and an intimacy fashioned from this scaled down array of sound which eminently suits Deerful’s lyrical concerns, being a combination of the highly personalised and acutely observed characterful storytelling. It’s an album of feelings, finely wrought, Winston’s perception that much of the true quality of life is created by the ‘little’ things creating a highly nuanced and thought provoking atmosphere.

Highlights begin with the singular and swirling introduction, “Peach Rose Tea”, creating a confused, fizzing, dream state whose pleasure is undermined by the punctuation of its sole, disconcerting, lyric word “bitch” and continues with the love story “Conceptual Art”; gently observed in wonderful minutiae in a heart-felt lyric of genuine sophistication.  Better yet is the burst of rapturously contemplative sky worship that is “Cloudwatching”, wherein Winston deploys a near Sally Oldfieldesque, sweet, declamatory vocal, garlanded in tastefully decorative synth motifs to make one feel, well, just happier. Highest marks, however, are reserved for “Down”, the darkest piece present on the album. Leading us through an anxiety-ridden sleepless night, articulated by disconcerting chord shifts, Winston creates a nocturnal masterpiece of self-devouring self-doubt. Picking herself apart in rigid stanzas, aurally reminiscent of Siouxsie Sioux on Valium, this is akin to the romantic nihilistic bleakness that Bryan Ferry was, long ago, so able to summon on the first two Roxy Music albums. The kill-off lines “You told me you would always love me. I said you would grow tired of me” are followed by a – typically Roxy – chilling dead stop.

Deerful is an extremely effective construct of high intelligence, one that is capable of both life-assertion and self-laceration. But what really makes Peach work is Winston’s talents as a melodicist. One could buy into this album purely on the strength of the tunes alone. The Deerful world is synth-pop at its best, the hooks are never obvious but they are plentiful and Winston’s essentially light, folk-orientated, voice creates an unusual and enjoyable contrast to her electronic backing.  Peach sounds, in many ways, very much like the start of a good, long story.

Where It’s At Is Where You Are

Comments

  1. Lovely review, thanks so much (and frankly I agree with you on Moon Maps!).

    Just want to go on record here and say that there’s no ‘bitch’ in ‘Peach Rose Tea’; it’s meant to be ‘peach’, and the text-to-speech script I used repeating that particular word multiple times was part of why I titled the album that. 🙂

    I’m popping up to say this here because I think the use and reclamation of ‘bitch’ is pretty much an article in itself, and using it in such an abstract sense in a song is not something I personally would have wanted to do deliberately – in case this particular hearing ends up following me elsewhere in future, this is me correcting it.

    This has definitely been a lesson for me to be pickier about using more recognisable vowel sounds in text-to-speech programs though!

  2. Oops, reviewer in plosives test-fail. Apols!