Waterworks is the debut EP from singer-songwriter Finola launched this week with a show at Jimmy's in Manchester. Over the four tracks she demonstrates an ability to express feelings and intentions with a clarity of purpose and with a voice that emphasises both the emotions and the intent of the words she's singing.
We first saw Finola perform over two years ago at Headlander Festival in Stockport. We were walking past the tent she was playing in and were drawn in by a rich emotive voice attached to some deep thoughtful reflections on life and love. She was in our tips for 2016, but then we encountered radio silence until some shows recently and now the release of this EP.
The four songs that make up the EP are different in their style, which gives Finola the opportunity to demonstrate the range in her voice and the ability of her band to dabble into varied genres.
Shotgun starts with a dramatic first verse, with just a strummed acoustic guitar over it, before it builds into a song driven along by a racing beat as it progresses as the rest of the band come in and Finola's voice helps to dictate the pace of the song. The song's about her seeking revenge - "it takes time to forgive your treason, sofor now, you better run from here my dear" - and you wouldn't mess with her.
Keep A Vow is one of the songs we heard over two years ago and on listening again for the first time since then, it's immediately obvious why we were drawn into that tent. It's a reflective look at a relationship, with the expression in Finola's voice and those of her backing vocalist Abbey accentuating the conflict between feelings and doubts "answer me this babe, if you can't keep a promise, how can you keep a vow."
Coming For You is another song that starts off slow, but doesn't hide its intent at all as Finola addresses the song's protagonist to the strum of an acoustic guitar declaring "don't touch me, I'm not yours to break, don't hush me, it's not your call to make" and warning them to "sleep with one eye open." As the song progresses, the band let loose and create a contradiction between the music and the intent of the words, but it's an intriguing one, especially as it drops back down and then builds again at the end leaving Finola to make her intentions clear.
The EP finishes with Waterworks, probably our favourite of the four. At nearly five and a half minutes it's brave for a new artist to attempt a song of that length given diminishing attention spans, but Finola's story-telling means the listener immerses themselves in the story "you've trapped me in your gaze, locked in your simple ways and I didn't fight it." It's delivered simply, but that makes it even more affecting and vulnerable, a rare commodity these days. Around two minutes in, guitars and drums come crashing in amidst a wail of glorious vocal harmonies as Finola picks over the scraps of what's gone wrong and pushes people away to deal with the fall out on her own, the waterworks used as an analogy for tears.
Waterworks is an impressive first release, and one that hints at great potential for the future as well. It's understated in parts which allows Finola's voice to take centre stage. Lyrically it's clear, concise and direct in its subject matter, not afraid to lay emotions bare and the emotional qualities of her voice ensures that the meaning of every word is accentuated.
Finola is on Facebook and Twitter.
She launches the EP at Jimmy's in Manchester on November 15th.
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