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EP Review: Gabrielle Aplin - Avalon

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With every release, British singer/songwriter Gabrielle Aplin's style seems to shift ever so slightly.

While her debut album was predominantly folk, her second incorporated heavier drum beats and electric guitar, giving it a rockier feel.

Her new EP released today, Avalon, is her biggest departure so far from the delicate folk that she found her fame through and into the world of synth pop.

Reinvention of style seems to be a popular move in the music industry at the moment.  Unfortunately, it does not always work so well. 

Avalon boasts a more polished production than her previous releases, but the actual songs no longer even recognise her folk roots, or let the insane songwriting skills she's capable of shine through - they feel lost in production.

‘Waking Up Slow’ was made Radio 1’s Record of the Week shortly after its release in August, and added to Radio 2’s official playlist.  This suggests that the song is popular and well done, this is where I take issue.  The beginning of the song gives you a false sense of expectation which is quickly dashed when the main section is introduced and you realize that it is just another generic, unoriginal and simplistic chart tune. 

The lyrics of 'Say Nothing' focus on heartbreak. It's a subject we've heard so much, that sometimes it feels like it needs to be done creatively to not feel like it's the same as every other song. Lyrically, this song feels pretty basic but there's an interesting synth breakdown which makes it a more enjoyable listen.

‘Used To Do’ is an interesting track, and probably the most similar to her prior work. There is a distinctive guitar and some stalwart drums that add some of the traditional value of her original music back in whilst keeping an enthusiastic groove. The lyrics focusing on a broken relationship that she is still optimistic about feel relevant and relatable.

The EP finishes with ‘Stay’, an indie-pop tune. Again, the production feels almost too perfected, a priority that only contributes to the dance sound and inhibits any chance of it sounding intimate or personal at all. Despite this, ‘Stay’ does finish the circle of the album’s themes, concentrating on lyrics that are strong and describe a plan to never return to failed relationships. 

To some original fans of her old work, Avalon may feel like a disappointment - but to those who appreciate reinvention of sound, it may feel like her best work yet. Her previous EP, Miss You, focused on a solely electronic pop sound in which it feels like she succeeded with in musicality much more so than dancey Avalon. Perhaps she's not cut out for the clubs just yet.

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