Following on from the release of her first two singles earlier this year, alt-folk artist Greta O’Leary has now released her debut EP which contains five songs, including both singles. In the past I have likened Greta to Vashti Bunyan, {Jazmine Mary} and {French For Rabbits}, and she has attributes of all of them, as what makes this EP work so incredibly well is the depth of her vocals and the way the arrangements refuse to conform to any normal theme. This is music where the artist literally followed the muse wherever it led them, which also results in the songs being quite different to each other as instead of attempting to fit herself within any particular expectation, she is doing exactly what she wants.

This means that she may be singing in a slightly upbeat manner with her alto vocals rather higher in the register with keyboards, bass, drums and violin, or she may be taking us on a quite different journey which is far more melodramatic and darker. I am used to folk being light and airy, inviting the listener to dance, but this is far slower and designed more to make the listener think as opposed to jig and reel around a room. It is wonderfully deep in nature, and it is hard to realise that this is from a young artist as opposed to someone at least twice her age who has suffered more of what life can throw as people. This is not a happy album in any way, and I can imagine Leonard Cohen also being an influence while the violin often sounds as if it is scraped over the strings as opposed to being played with closing number The Birthday Song being incredibly poignant. Contrast that to opener Mountain Tip which is based on picked acoustic guitar and a band which sounds vibrant as opposed to being dragged along.      

I sadly missed Greta’s gig the other night as I was at {Written By Wolves} (and to be honest, if I hadn’t been there I would have been seeing {Xile}) – there is just so much live music around at the moment – but I hope I manage to see her when she is next in Auckland as there is a great breadth and presence in what she is doing. Given the success that some of her influences have been having recently, it will be interesting to see if Greta is acknowledged as this EP has depth beyond her years and is certainly worthy of further investigation.  8/10