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Review of Sleep Shelter ep by Rachel Goswell (ex-Slowdive).

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  • Jen
    Disclaimer: This is just my opinion of Rachel s ep, which a pal of mine in the UK sent me. I would love to hear the opinions of anyone else who has listened
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2004
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      Disclaimer: This is just my opinion of Rachel's ep, which a pal of
      mine in the UK sent me. I would love to hear the opinions of anyone
      else who has listened to the ep and/or her full-length solo album.
      In my review of this ep I tend to extrapolate my view to her album,
      although I have not heard it. I am hoping that the material on her
      album surpasses what was included on the ep. Ok, on to my review -

      Review of Sleep Shelter ep by Rachel Goswell

      Or as I prefer to call it, Sleep-Due-To-Boredom Shelter. I know, not
      as catchy, but definitely more accurate. I didn't want to have to
      write a negative review, and maybe this 5-song ep is not indicative
      of the song quality on Rachel's solo album (I haven't heard it yet),
      but I was very disappointed by the lazy lyrics, poor musical
      execution, half-finished songs, and worst of all, uninspired vocals
      on this ep.
      As part of Slowdive, Rachel's vocals were gorgeously melancholy and
      buoyant on the ascending waves and crests of the signature Slowdive
      wall-of-guitar sound. In Mojave 3, all of Slowdive's sonic splendor
      was stripped away to reveal lyrics once buried in feedback and a more
      simple alt-country sound – with Rachel singing and harmonizing
      beautifully on too few tracks.
      Whether Mojave 3 was your cup of tea after the sonic heights and
      density of Slowdive depended on your willingness to follow the band
      members into new terrain (I do want to mention that Mojave 3 is not
      the only branch growing out of Slowdive; a couple other band members
      formed another band called Monster Movie that sound nothing like
      their moniker and are quite good, from the songs I've heard).
      Then Rachel struck out on her own, and it was with great excitement
      that fans of Slowdive, Mojave 3, and Rachel Goswell awaited the
      release of her solo album. The major looming question was – what
      would the album sound like, Slowdive or Mojave 3?
      Based on the ep, it sounds like a more lackluster Mojave 3 without
      the musical chops, insightful lyrics, and emotional depth.
      Two out of the 5 songs on the ep are also on the album, Plucked and
      Sleeping `n' Tooting. Plucked is an intimate, slow-paced song with a
      wandering melody line and simplistic lyrics and sound, redeemed by
      Rachel's pretty vocals and elegiac tone (strings come in near the
      close; cellos, I think). It's also way too short and left me wanting
      more, always a good sign, and a nice start to the ep.
      Next up is Sleeping `n' Tooting, a slicker, country-type song that
      reminds me of old Fleetwood Mac out-takes where Christine McVie had
      lead vocals – 70's-sounding in the instrumental backing and some
      slight harmonizing vocals (nothing against the Mac, as they have
      produced some great songs). There's something wrong with the mix
      because Rachel's voice sounds thin and nasal and limited in its
      range. The sound overpowers her and while she always had a laid-
      back, sad inflection to her voice, here it contrasts too much with
      the upbeat nature of the song.
      The rest of the songs are not on her album, and in the case of one of
      the songs, that's quite a shame. Before we get to that one, however,
      we must tackle Flying with Gene. Once again the sound mix is bad,
      with the instruments coming off too loudly. Rachel doesn't have
      enough gravity to her voice and it sounds like she's hurriedly
      singing through the chorus, not even sounding totally on-key. The
      overemphasis on shallow lyrics, pushed home by repetition, and
      strident instruments weigh the song down, instead of carrying it away.
      The next song, Sticking with Grace, is a welcome reprieve and return
      to form (and, unfortunately, is not on the album). Rachel sings in a
      higher register and sounds more self-assured. It's a sweet, more
      emotive song along the lines of Mojave 3, with upbeat guitars, a more
      pleasant and memorable melody, and more lyrically complex. The song
      is light on its feet and almost, but not quite achieves grace.
      Come Rescue Me ends the ep on a slow, regretful note, with the
      emphasis on plaintive vocals, lyrics, and guitar. Rachel's voice
      returns to being pallid and not emotive enough. The lyrics "come
      rescue me" are repeated too many times for comfort – the listener
      ends up hoping someone (or some other album) will come rescue them
      from the half-formed songs on the ep.
      Sleep Shelter needs a wake up call to give it more zest and life. It
      also needs to be mixed properly. Most of the songs sound like demos
      and, without the sonic beauty and veil of mystery of Slowdive's songs
      or the solid structure and catchy melodies of Mojave 3's songs, the
      Sleep Shelter ep's faults are laid bare. This could have been an
      autumnal solo masterpiece in the vein of Out of Season by Beth
      Gibbons (of Portishead, with Rustin' Man). Instead the sound is one-
      note and no boundaries are stretched – lyrically, musically, and most
      sadly of all, vocally.
      Rachel has so much potential and maybe her full album, Waves are
      Universal, is better than the material chosen for this ep. Here's
      hoping! Jen
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