MARIA SOMERVILLE'S earliest songs were melancholy, atmospheric, meditations, based around the guitar. In the years since, her music has metamorphosed into electronica, but those qualities of mood and emotionally drenched sonics remain.
'Eyes Don't Say It', the opening track of this, her debut album, sets out the template, with Maria's voice floating and drifting above ambient sounds. The words she sings are unimportant, her voice alone is the hypnotic instrument, drawing the listener in with its Debussy like sense of melody. 'All Too Much' pushes the envelope further, the voice mixed to become one with the swirling electronic sounds. In places it recalls My Bloody Valentine's 'To Here Knows When'.
'This Way' is more conventional, yet still left-field. It boasts a beguiling indie-pop vocal melody, the voice couched in lush sonics and underpinned by a gentle beat. The refrain, "All I ever wanted was for you, to see me as me" has a poignant ring to it, especially at the moment when her voice appears to falter, as though this is still a difficult issue for her to address.
The guitar is not entirely absent. It is the central instrument on the waltzing, Cat Power like, waltzing, 3am ballad of 'Dreaming', its placing neatly dividing the album.
A key influence on Maria's music is the landscape of her native Connemara, and this ability to mix the organic and earthy with the electronic is captured on closer 'Brighter Days'. A reverie, it conveys the sensation of being in nature, of feeling its sensations. The piano motif which dominates the track, though simple chord changes, has a real ring of inspiration to it. A forward looking and impressive debut from an imaginative Irish artist.
Maria Somerville plays Strange Brew at the Róisín Dubh tonight at 8pm. Admission is €10/8.