Whilst there are many young, brilliantly-talented female folk artists trying to make it onto this already bustling and proliferate scene, it is a pleasure that Rachel Sermanni has scrambled to the podium and delivered such a stunning debut album with Under Mountains.
Following the release of her EP Black Currents earlier in the year, the new record displays her increasing talent and maturity as a 20 year-old performer and songwriter, with an eclectic mix of deep and dark poems, combined with charming and sharp dittys. The production is perfect and the instrumentals are kept to a minimum, allowing Rachel’s beautiful vocals to take charge, with just the right amount of strings, backing harmonies and plucked acoustics when needed.
New single Waltz is an early stand-out; following the track Breathe Easy, which opened the Black Currents EP remarkably, and the delightfully quirky and breathy, but equally powerful and assertive Bones. Waltz features Louis Linklater Abbott from Admiral Fallow and displays Sermanni’s superb talent of uniting the lyrics of the song, with the flowing, ballroom-esque swirl of the music. The gorgeous strings, her sweeping vocals and his deep and carefully positioned tones perfectly represent both the thrill and nervousness of a first dance.
The Fog is another exceptional track on this debut record, and shows that Sermanni is no 0ne-trick pony as she delivers a deep and dark, somewhat eerie piece, laced with lyrics in the style of a Victorian poem, and a sensational vocal range. Again, the use of strings are perfect and the arrangement exactly right. Sleep is another track reminiscent of Laura Marling’s work – timeless and mystifying, but drunk with a love that cannot be shaken. It again illustrates Sermanni’s stunning songwriting skills and her talent to create a veiled, black and white film at the back of your mind, as her words tell the story.
The wonderfully-named Marshmallow Unicorn and Black Currents are beautiful lullabies of love and loss and display the mature qualities of Sermanni, showing similarities to fellow, female folk favourites Emily And The Woods, Ellen And The Escapades and most notably Lisa Hannigan. Yet her sound is still unique and distinctive, and a sheer delight to listen to.
With a debut as precious, sophisticated and exquisite as Under Mountains, it will be interesting to see how far this wonderful talent can go. If she continues to deliver work of this standard, Rachel Sermanni could very well reach the top.