I have never been one for surprises, my skin practically tingles like Spiderman when somebody suggests they have a surprise for me. I do not want to arrive home evening to find the lights off and my friends hunkered behind the sofa and doorways ready to shout “surprise!” on my birthday.
Yet, in music, I love surprises. Bring them on, throw in a weird middle eight or choice of instrument, I’ll happily listen to a banjo solo or experience the sound of a harp replacing a piano.
When I was handed ‘Wildflower’ by Irish singer/songwriter Ava, I was expecting haunting sounds set against dreary backdrops of stories of the sea and cold coastal relationships, but what I heard was an atmospheric love letter to the elements that has surprises in oodles. There is a formula to the songs, they more often start with a simple recipe of vocal and a lone instrument before setting up the rhythm with drums and percussion and this is where the music really soars. If you were expecting drab and dreary, then you were wrong, the music, although a little similar in places, is part of an overall sound that builds an atmosphere and mood that runs through the entire album.
It feels like the soundtrack to a waking world, music to watch the dawn with and there are standout songs in ‘Rhythm of Earth’, ‘When We Dream’ and ‘Native Call’ before the final double -hitter of the rousing ‘Runaway’ and ‘Loud’ accompanies the rising of the sun with a feeling of refreshment and the beginning of another day.
Ava manages to straddle both worlds of folk and world music while still maintaining a Celtic influence that works well in the overall sound. As an album to calm yourself to, it’s perfection, but as a debut, it’s impressive and hopefully the start of an interesting journey.