Bakelite: crackling sonic references herald the arrival of a singular talent
There must be something in the Suffolk water that is particularly good for nourishing the county’s female song-writing gene pool. Artists like Fiona Bevan, Rhiannon Mair and Reb Capper all have steadily rising profiles that are capturing attention well beyond the county boundaries.
With a generous 14 tracks showcasing a prodigious gift, Capper’s first full-length album is a curiosity shop of influences, styles and genres. Inside, nursery rhymes are retold, folkloric sprites summoned, passions collide, and the calming notes of evensong counterbalance gypsy dances and the crackling sonic references of the title track, “Bakelite”.
Capper’s ability to create a vivid idiosyncratic world in song has inevitably already drawn comparison with Kate Bush – and equally inevitably, garnered her the ‘quirky’ tag. There are certainly echoes of Bush’s early work in a shared gift for fusing human emotion with myth and earthy nature (“Voodoo Doll” is a case in point) but the similarity is mainly present in Capper’s eclectic range of influences – cinematic one minute, rooted in English folk music the next – which fuel her personal musical vision.
Bakelite is an ambitious album, full of charm. Lush emotional ballads like “Masquerade” and “Egg Shells” rub shoulders with numbers such as “Teddy Bears Picnic”, “Lemon Aid” and “Goblin Song”, which evoke a joyous early 1970s spirit reminiscent of the late Lynsey de Paul or Blue Mink. “Evening Song” grows from its plainsong intro into a soaring, hey-nonny folk number, eventually combining the two in an audacious mix, while plangent church bells segue into a blue-grass jig on the wry “Wedding Bells”.
All in all, a tasty feast, beautifully produced by Steve Mann and Capper herself, heralding the big-stage arrival of a singular talent.