Album Review: Siobhan Wilson – There Are No Saints

Siobhan Wilson couldn’t sound any less like she was from the far reaches of northern Scotland, such is the dazzling mix of influences and inspirations on her debut album ‘There Are No Saints‘. Experimenting with sounds as varied as vintage French pop, classical music, folk and grunge has resulted in one of the most original and engaging albums from a young Scottish singer in a long time.

The opening title track ‘There Are No Saints‘ is hymn-like in its simple choral beauty. Wilson’s impressive vocals are layered so she sounds like a ghostly choir echoing around an abandoned church. Whatever Helps is more straightforward indie rock in sound, but also showcases the quality and versatility of her voice. Dear God is eerily hypnotic with lyrics that suggest a songwriter with mature and intriguing ideas.

You might think it could be a little pretentious or false to hear a Scottish girl sing in French but instead the two tracks here Paris Est Blanche and J’attendrei have a delicate beauty that actually feels natural and compliments the sounds on the rest of the album. Maybe the fact Wilson lived in Paris makes these songs sound authentic or perhaps she’s just spent a good amount of time listening to classic French pop.

Disaster and Grace lets her Scottish lilt through a little, the piano haunts the background of this quiet lament which eventually sounds almost like an old jazz number. This song reminds me of the excellent work by other Scottish indie star Kathryn Joseph – and I wouldn’t bet against Siobhan having similar success to her at the SAY awards in the future.

Incarnation uses fuzzy guitars to complement her voice, the softness layered together to create a strange feeling of sweet gothic doom. Make You Mine is probably the most straightforward indie folk song on here, a tale of falling in love to all the wrong songs. It builds over a simple repeated guitar sound, reminding me a little of a Sharon Van Etten, which can never be a bad thing. Wilson has the ability to turn any song in a moment, raising the stakes and the emotion with one note.

Dystopian Bach sounds exactly as you would imagine it to from that title – a beautiful nightmare. You have to admire the depth of her ambition to blend classical music with something more modern and unique. The final waltz is called ‘It Must Have Been The Moon‘, but listening to this album you feel the stars are where she’s headed.

Siobhan recently won an emerging talent competition that allowed her to perform at Green Man festival in Wales and she is on tour around the UK in September. There Are No Saints is available now on Song, by Toad Records.

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