Rhiannon’s first solo release, #9 comes out over two years after her unexpected departure from the rapidly rising duo Rita Payne. For those familiar with the duo’s material, the subsequent development in her craft as a songwriter and lyricist during this time is evident in the tracks featured on this self-published release.
The short collection of five songs is both deeply personal yet entirely universal, the subject matter effortlessly echoes experiences we all share with a tender and open honesty. Lee shares with us the loss of a childhood friend and evokes the sensation one feels when a shift in season conjures vivid memories of that season in former years.
The final track, Another Way can undoubtedly be read as a song to her former band mate, and the ear-worm hook in the bridge of I Swim speaks of the naivety of youth with a knowing fondness towards her younger self.
Throughout #9, even through painful and presumably cathartic subject matter, the songs are delivered with lightness and a distinct sense of hope shines through the music through use of triumphant chord progressions and the chosen instrumentation.
The recording of this release is something unusual in itself. Recorded live at Sheffield’s Café #9, the back of the EP has a disclaimer of sorts which reads ‘All tracks recorded live without any prior rehearsals. All parts created on the spot by these wonderful musicians who had never met or played together as a whole before this evening. As a result, it is beautifully imperfect’. There certainly are a few moments of uncertainty, a wrong note here, and mis-timed one there, but each ‘imperfection’ is more than compensated for in the overall feel of the recording. Instrumentals that were written mere moments before somehow feel like they’ve always belonged. A bold and curious method of recording for a debut release, this free and liberal approach shows a confidence in her own songs, and the ultimate trust Rhiannon has in the musicians around her.
In live performance, Rhiannon’s ability to captivate an audience is only superseded by her ability to deliver a line that can break your heart in an instant. Looking around the audience at shows proves to me that Rhiannon is an artist who moves you or makes you move.