Blissful Sigh – Pia Salvia (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

The first brilliant and surprising moment of an album which seems to be built entirely out of brilliant and surprising moments, is when the gentle, neo-classical restraint and soothing tones of opening number, Vague à l’âme, explode into a wave folk-pop energy. It would be all to easy to head into an album by an artist known mainly as a harpist and expect to find yourselves in the realms of symphonic grandeur or folk delicacy. And whilst the album is shot through with such sonic sensations, that is only the tip of a very supple and subtle musical iceberg.

As soon as the sensual, soaring vocals and gossamer grace of the harp are joined by beats and sound structures more reminiscent of the pop and contemporary world, you realise that what you have before you is an intriguing and unique collection of songs.

The title track is built from soft, soulful washes which cocoon the shimmering beauty of the harp chiming at its core and it is a sound which sets the tone for the album perfectly. As Pia herself has noted, artists all too often dwell on the struggles and the hardships of their life and use music as a way of releasing such tensions. Here she deliberate steers a more positive, euphoric and celebratory path.

L’Acapelle is a song which runs the full gamut of the sonic spectrum, from the  vocal minimalism that the title suggests ending in a full-on, rock ’n’ roll work out, Standing in a Dim Light wraps itself around some gorgeous jazz-infusions and Too Young To Know is a timeless slice of anthemic, chamber pop.

Blissful Sigh is an album which is at turns, graceful and full of groove, reflective and forward-thinking, fragile and full-throttled, delicate and delicious. It travels a sonic spectrum which will take your breath away, it wilfully hops generic boundaries (or more probably fails to notice that they are even there at all) and which is as musically unexpected as it is beguilingly compelling.

We might only be half way through 2020, but this is a release which is without doubt on my shortlist for albums of the year. If it doesn’t finish in medal winning position then I will be very surprised.

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