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Current concise reviews of the albums by adult alternative, contemporary, and crossover artists. Images of album artwork and links to both internet-based resources are always included. Click on the title to view the article.

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Rachel Sermanni - Under Mountains - CD Cover
click image for Rachel's website
\r\ncover illustration: Sophie Milner
\r\nimage © Middle of Nowhere
Recordings 2012

.: more Rachel Sermanni :.
Black Currents (2012)
exclusive interview (2012)

Rachel Sermanni
click image for Rachel's FaceBook
image © Middle of Nowhere
Recordings 2012

(10 September 2012) After February's remarkable four track EP Black Currents and June's beautifully packaged "Eggshells" single -- containing both 7” vinyl and CD versions) -- Rachel Sermanni has released her much anticipated full length debut album Under Mountains (Middle Of Nowhere Recordings (UK) SERMANNICD05, 2012). The album was mastered at Abbey Road Studios. Be sure to read our exclusive interview with Rachel conducted in September 2012.

Much of what I wrote when reviewing Black Currents can be applied to Under Mountains as the album is really an extension of that four song EP, and Rachel continues to garner plaudits both from critics and fellow musicians. Elbow frontman, and BBC 6Music presenter, Guy Garvey called her, "Really, really something special. She's amazing. Listen to her voice. Quite astonishing."

Music has far too many genres these days and the twelve beautifully conceived and executed songs on this disc could be filed under 'female singer-songwriter,' 'neo-folk,' 'folk-noir,' 'chamber-folk,' etc., but in truth, the music transcends all attempts to pin it down and label it.

The album is produced by Ian Grimble who also produced Black Currents, and as he did on that collection, he's wisely used a limited, acoustic, musical palette of guitar, piano, bass, occasional percussion and a trio of violinists, Siobhan Anderson, Louise Bichan and Laura Wilkie, who, along with pianist Jennifer Austin, also provide backing vocals. This gives the disc great unity, which is a fine achievement as the earliest of the songs here was written while Rachel was still at school. He ensures the focus throughout is firmly on Rachel's voice and the songs.

"Breathe Easy," "The Fog," "Black Current" and "Song To A Fox" were the four tracks that made up the Black Currents EP (review). "Waltz" is the most sublime track I've heard in many a long year. It's a song that first appeared on Rachel's Live At The Bothy EP (as is "Little Prayer"), but in the time since that original sparse recording, "Waltz" has been lovingly nurtured and shaped into a thing of consummate beauty on which Rachel duets with Louis Abbott from the band Admiral Fallow.

What makes Rachel truly exceptional is how the combination of her voice and the writing pulls you into each song, living it rather than simply hearing it; you're on the inside, in the world her music constructs. Very few artists can do this. Sandy Denny at her best comes to mind as perhaps the prime example. This is an album that will appeal to those who like Laura Marling, Karine Polwart, Emiliana Torrini, Nick Drake and anyone who loves great music.

Although there are still three months left of the year, Under Mountains is a clear front-runner for my album of 2012. It is well deserved. Rachel Sermanni has an exceptional gift and is using it wisely.--Jamie Field in Kington, England

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