Let the light fade in…
Measured against her previous outings, Polly Scattergood’s captivating last album, In This Moment (see Wavegirl review previously) opted for a more intimate collection of songs. As an album, it was inspired by “travel, soundtracks, Scandinavian films, and music that transports people to very different worlds; the kind of music that makes the listener shut their eyes and be taken on a journey.”
Obviously with the current Covid crisis, touring was out of the question. Instead, it offered Scattergood the opportunity to take things in a different direction. “We decided to move our gear into the attic and set up a little space we could live stream from” she commented on the genesis of the EP, “The Attic Sessions – live from lockdown” became a regular fixture on YouTube. We played various stripped back skeleton versions of tracks from In This Moment“.
“It was just me and Glenn and a few instruments. It really felt like going back to my roots. The voice and the story had to carry it all which felt refreshing. They had such a warm reception we decided to put them onto a little EP recorded live from our attic. I love the realness of this EP. I am someone who tends to spend hours in the studio but, with this EP, I just allowed it to be “In This Moment” and embrace the imperfections of 2020; the sounds of our creaking the attic and the odd seagull from outside the window. They always seemed to sit on the roof the minute we pressed record!”
The result is a selection of alternate takes on some of the standout moments from the parent album. Despite the stripped-down approach to the songs here, there’s still a polished warmth to the delivery even if they may lack the broader sonic palette of the album versions.
Both ‘Bloom’ and ‘Pearl’ take their inspiration from nature and motherhood (Scattergood had balanced being a new Mum and writing music during the In This Moment sessions). The sparse mood of ‘Bloom’ offers a warm, loving dedication to a tiny life that has entirely changed your world (“You bloom with the moon and the tides/you are my greatest everlasting high/you are a miracle existence/my entire solar system”).
Meanwhile, ‘Pearl’ has a hazy, twilight quality to it with its dreamlike guitar and Scattergood’s raw, heartfelt vocal which explores ideas of “a new adventure”, while also exploring the idea of magic within small things.
The sober piano on ‘Clouds’ gives this composition a moment of thoughtful reflection. Dealing with themes of acceptance and coming to terms with whatever is happening in your life, the world keeps on turning; “The sea stays blue and the sun it keeps on rising again and the waves they roll”. It’s a more intimate approach here than the shimmering version on In this Moment.
Equally, ‘Anchor’ utilises a gentle piano melody combined with evocative lyrics that pull from images and themes of the sea.
Intriguingly, the EP chooses to end on ‘Red’, which originally was the opening track on In This Moment. In its original incarnation, a muscular percussion gave the song a particular dynamism – something which matched the song’s anthemic inspiration, described by Scattergood as a “Clarion call to womankind”. Here, the song moves at a more casual pace with the piano’s tumbling warmth giving the track an emotional weight. Yet, even at a more glacial pace, there’s something powerful about the lyrics (“And we will roar/And we will rage”).
The Attic Sessions delivers a perfect companion piece to In This Moment, delivering a reflective beauty that perfectly showcases Polly Scattergood’s talent for composition and arrangement.
The Attic Sessions is out now.