The third record from Angharad Drake is called “Sword” and is the kind of movement of music that I’d define as perfection. It is very simple in its execution but again comes down to the mood and how Drake approaches the melodic structure of each song. Drake saturates each song with darkness and a spooky whisper and it becomes hard not to be pulled into her psyche. This is real journeyperson material and you can hear that Drake has lived every inch of pain contained within the lyrics. There are also pinches of resolve and hope swirling in and out of the songs but it is more attached to an acceptance of ones weirdness as opposed to anything found in positive thinking handbooks.
As is the case with all good pop music, the intensity is front and centre and Drake doesn’t waste time grabbing your soul and taking you on a journey through the dark and light regions of our existence and the other dimensions she is channelling. Drake makes both very intellectual but also very spiritual music and when you mix the science with the soul you get a beating heart that is well balanced and rooted in purity.
The album kicks off with a trio of songs (Intro, Sword and You) that are a simple gallop of smiles and bummer sunshine. They move around with the confusion of the early stages of a new romance. It has a beautiful innocence and weaves stories that are equally a plea for connection and a yearning for a new bliss blackout and the complication of first kisses and late Sunday night wishes. It shimmers and shines with pop skills and drags you into the elegant world of Angharad Drake.
This initial introduction moves beautifully into my favourite moment “Water.” This is one of those rare songs that comes around every few years and totally changes the genre for which it belongs. A simple pop song at its core, “Water” takes us on a journey giving a full spotlight on the complicated emotions that influenced the song. It takes you away to blissed out landscapes and you find yourself investing in the journey. A great blend of teen angst and early twenties hope and the song stands as both a roar towards past heartbreak and a whisper to the future lover.
The remaining stretch of songs on this album follow a similar trend and I found myself listening to tracks like “Majesty,” “Down” and “Lone” a few times trying to work out if the songs were autobiographical or an observation on the destructive pattern associated with watching best friends descending into relationship drama. Regardless of whether they are fact or fiction these would be the perfect songs for any coming of age drama movie with that garden state pinch of comedy.
The final track “Nobody Believes” is the perfect closer to this way too short album. It brings everything together quite nicely and is the triumphant final breath to this emotional journey. It makes me feel like I’m travelling in slow motion from the steam of old friendships, old lovers and heading straight for a new kind of sunshine. It’s a “satisfied mind” ending to the adventure and thrill of being a teenager in love. It resolves itself with a youthful optimism and a commitment to a new journey, a new self and a new landscape of shivers.
Angharad Drake is a bright light in an often predictable and redundant landscape of singer songwriters. Her music is dark and moody and is clearly influenced by the many different faces of music. It has a progressive heartbeat in the way that Sarah Blasko did but to my ears it also has something special attached to it the way that artists like Joanna Newsom and Tori Amos do. I’m quite a big fan of this album and I can’t wait to see how Angharad Drake evolves this sophisticated sound on her future releases. I only hope it grows darker in its delivery and we get to experience an even deeper and more intense journey than the one being hinted at on “Sword.”
Music review wankerisms aside, what does Angharad Drake’s “Sword” album mean to me?
When I listen to “Sword” I get tangled in the memory of all of the human beings I’ve have either loved romantically or had an extreme crush on. There is a simple frame of yearning and desire around every inch of these songs but also a hungry desperation that flirts with the notion of being jealous. It isn’t the kind of envy that is cruel or funded on insecurity it is more the kind of jealous nature that exists inside the empathetic and passionate souls who love without of any thought of reward and who need the rush of love, with all of its joy and pain, to feel alive and in touch with their artistic muse.
Love is the kind of emotion that has the capacity to fuel every positive and negative emotion inside of you but that is also the challenge of love, to have the darkness and the light of it infect you to the point where you end up having to accept all of it.
If you listen to “Sword” and you are in love with someone who is also in love with you then the album will sound like a defensive narrative or plea to the outside world to not pollute the dynamic you share with that other human being because there is nothing more frightening than an external world acting in a destructive manner to disrupt the rhythm of your relationship.
If you listen to this album from the perspective of simply being in a “crush” like situation then once again from a narrative point of view “Sword” highlights that you are simply watching that person you have extreme feelings for being taken away from you by weaker human beings who won’t love them in the way you know you’re capable of doing. This album acts as a battle cry for when you will one day find the courage to strike and make that connection with that human and to give your love an entry point.
Regardless of which category you fall into when you listen to “Sword” there is a loneliness that hangs in both situations. Both of the above life situations provide any human being with a loneliness that is at times suffocating, dripping with all kinds of confused longing and swooned aggression giving you suspended periods of time in the darkness of your own mind. It is in these moments of reflection that you either arrive at an explosive moment of clarity or a cluttered yet hopeless stained generation of silent sadness.
That is the power of what “Sword” communicates as an album in its slacked out bliss and swirls of seductive rage. “Sword” is another flawless example of why Angharad Drake is shaping up to be not just a popular musician but an important artist and trust me we need more artists among the indie pop stars. I am just so glad that finally someone modern took the time to scatter all of this depth and yearning into their music; it makes the world a better place knowing that Angharad Drake’s music exists.
10 Cassette Tapes Out Of 10
By: Dan Newton