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The Deserters is the debut solo album from British singer-songwriter Rachel Zeffira. The record benefits from Rachel's classical training applied beautifully to the pop sound of her band Cat's Eyes.
Too late. The first articles about Rachel Zeffira have already been written and have branded her a classically-trained kook, the girl that's one half of Cat's Eyes with Faris Badwan from The Horrors and an entry in the NME's list of indie's sexiest women.
She might be classically-trained, but to write off her compositional craft as mere whimsy is to totally ignore a true, rare brilliance. The Deserters, given a chance, will completely negate any such journalistic silliness with just one listen, because it is a jolt of psychedelic, oozing instrumental wonder and songwriting magnificence.
Canadian Zeffira has a uniquely simplistic and powerful melodic knack which satisfies the head, but to massage the heart she has a real aptitude for arrangements. Oscillating strings, reeds and flutes are used with invention throughout, on the chug of Break the Spell and in the closing organ expanse of Goodbye Divine – all evidence that Zeffira is skipping wildly ahead of the pack.
Nyman-like undulations in texture, Debussy recalling piano washes, Krautrock momentum and a deeply romantic vantage jostle for attention, and it's to Zeffira's credit that no single element dominates. Enlisting the pop-psych ensemble TOY is something of a masterstroke on Here on In, using simple cellular tools to gently build a splashy, sulky and playlist-friendly pop song. Even the cover of My Bloody Valentine's To Here Knows When is unerringly convincing as entirely her own work, turning Kevin Shields' song about a druggy orgasm into a tender shimmer of intimacy.
Neatly, Zeffira sings "I might have seen something written about you / About the things you used to do," at one point on Star. It's an interesting line not just because it ties in with what people are writing about her already, but more because it's a forward-looking statement, about what used to be true.
With an album so perfectly formed and well made, it's the only possible perspective she could have. The Deserters is unequivocally demanding of your attention, as accomplished as it is tummy-meltingly wonderful to listen to.
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Top customer reviews
When this album works well it reminds you of other singer songwriters and their strong efforts. However, it reminds you more of the male singer songwriters like Nick Drake (with its instrumentation) and Jeff Buckley with its use of a strong voice at the front. Its a good offering and will further propel Rachel Zeffira forward.
deserves consideration in her own right. Her solo debut 'The Deserter' is
an exotic confection touched by the spirit of the sixties and proves to be
a testament to her innate musicality. These ten songs are both moody and
imaginative in equal measure. The melodies dreamy; the arrangements lush and
Ms Zeffira's voice an alchemically rich salve, as smooth as silk. It truly is a
captivating instrument. Away from her home base she seems comfortable and
in command. The entire project has an impressively solid sonic coherence.
Top tracks include : 'Here On In', channeling the gentler side of Blondie;
the melancholy but magical 'Letters From Tokyo (Sayonara)' with it's limpid
piano lines, lithe string arpeggios and haunting ondes martenot; the simple
but affecting 'Front Door', a sublimely romantic confection and the gorgeous
final track 'Goodbye Divine', whose organ and percussion decorations form
a perfect frame for Ms Zeffira's vocal incantations. Mournfully memorable.
At the tail end of the year it will be hard to find a finer offering.
I found Cat's Eyes first, of which she is a part (check it out - well worth getting) which led me to this and it was well worth the wait. Though it is a different style and feel to her collaborative Cat's Eyes album her voice remains hauntingly beautiful - more so here i feel.
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