Review: GEMMA HAYES // The Hollow Of Morning

October 6, 2009

Gemma Hayes

Back in 2004 a friend lent us Gemma Hayes‘ debut Night On My Side.  From the first track (Hanging Around) on, we were hooked – there was a whimsical honesty and throw-your-hands-up-at-the-world effortlessness that was endearingly captivating.  This led to that, and as fate would have it she ended up quitting music for awhile – only to come back firing with the exquisitely realized Hollow Of Morning.

Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) comes out of his self-imposed woodwork to play his characteristic noise and guitar on the record, adding to the thickly textured ambience that helps separate this album from the sea of singer-songwriter schlock.  Instead of falling into the “acoustic guitar and voice” trap, Gemma contrasts her effortless and smooth vocals with coarse sonics and roomy drums.  Lyrically, this album succeeds in walking the same emotionally fine line traversed by Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard or Stars’ Torquil Campbell – personal and evocative without ever crossing over and becoming cheesy.  A testament to strong melodies and knowing how to use one’s voice to sell a lyric.

First single Home provides a driving and churning centrepoint to the album.  Other standouts include This Is What You Do, In Over My Head and Don’t Forget.

This is a powerful record that has been stuck in our player for months.  So much so that when you buy the album and get to track 9, you may have a peculiar sense of deja vu.

“I’m beginning to forget.  I’m beginning to forget you, I just see an outline.”


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