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Stephanie Hladowski, "The High, High Nest"

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The story is that these four songs are all that's left of Scatter's scrapped final album. As that free folk assembly went on their separate ways, thankfully vocalist Stephanie Hladowski has collated the tracks into this 10" EP. It feels like these songs have been pulled through the liquid mirror of a now-closed world, with this world being better off for having them. These brief glimpses of the past reveal themselves as further puzzle pieces in the reconfiguration of British traditional songs as part of a living present.

 

Singing Knives

Alex Neilson's extensive liners make it difficult to say anything that doesn't sound like paraphrasing of his perfectly on-point thoughts. Hladowski has a strong vocal that is ferociously fragile: a voice sometimes lost in character; broken but determined to finish her narrative. The accapella "In the Month of January" is no less musical for its simplicity. Instrumentally, it is an understated set of performances from The Family Elan's Chris Hladowski and Isobel Campbell. T

he contribution of the thin smooth flesh of Campbell's cello bleeds all the emotion of the worst moments of warmth over a pair of tracks. The steady tempo and beauty of Chris Hladowski's bouzouki on "Willy O'Winsbury" moves like the leisurely springs on a honeymooner's bed. It is his backing on "Andrew Lambie" that provides Stephanie's weary vocal bones a place to rest, his warm electric/organic hum filling the song. The final moments of this vinyl are the most startling with the end of the record leaving the sensation that something has been stolen from the room (life, air, words, resolution, perhaps a presence?). Even by returning to those last few seconds countless times, it is still unclear what it was.

 


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