Somnambulistic follows 2019s She Moved Through The Fair single (A traditional Irish folk classic that’s been covered by numerous artists including Fairport Convention, Sinead O’Connor and Anne Briggs) and full-length Sound Recordings. The album’s unusual title is a reference to sleepwalking and judging by the promo-notes, which state it’s an ‘entrancing nine-track album of dark lullabies’, it would appear to be the most appropriate title to assign to it. Daniel Cross‘ cover photo is equally dreamlike, eerie and enchanting, pointing to the album being so too. We’re promised that ‘the offering is also a stylistic shift from previous Plum Green releases. While guided by guitar, Plum Green‘s voice travels through walls of bowed soundscapes.’, sounds intriguing, let’s dig into it.
Classical music unfortunately has connotations to dreary events such as The Proms as well as the learned elite and hence tends to get overlooked. Raspberry Vine is demonstrative of how beautiful and transcendent it can be as a genre when employed correctly, the string arrangement bringing an added melancholy and darkness to the track and really enhancing the wistful vocals. A gorgeous number to commence the album. Eyes Shut can’t help but remind one of Hope Sandoval, the vocals are uncannily similar and the music just as low-key. Listening to it you can’t help but fall in love with Plum, so intimate is the atmosphere she’s creating.
White Kitten has an elegiac quality, and I was reminded of Alain Johannes superb 2020 album Hum (which made my top Shaman top 10 incidentally). Similarly Somnambulistic appears to be referencing love and loss, universal themes maybe, but one that is superbly handled here. Grave Snuggler is the musical equivalent of a piece of porcelain, so fragile and delicate that there’s a danger of it shattering if not handled with extreme care. People Of The Snow evokes the spirit of Marissa Nadler and her brand of dream folk, the accompanying video putting one in a near hallucinatory state. There are slight nods to Cocteau Twins too and tracks like Heaven or Las Vegas that make the whole affair seem like a dream sequence.
Adjectives such as bewitching and spellbinding can be used to describe this listening experience such is its impact…
Walk Against The Wind reminds me of the very closing shot of the TV show Six Feet Under when Claire Fisher is driving to New York and all her family members and acquaintances are seen to pass away one by one as the years roll on, leaving one to conclude that there is a sense of finality to the track. Moon Of Honey contains gothic overtones with a moody backdrop supporting the lightly plucked guitar and ethereal vocals to stunning effect, an example of how to perfectly meld together light and shade with mesmerising results.
Here We Go employs a relatively stripped down approach with simpler arrangements and lyrics (less poetic) than employed previously. It acts as a pleasant segue-way into final track Belleza Nocturna (translates as ‘night beauty’) and is the ideal accompaniment for looking up at the moon and stars. The track feels like it could have been written for The Wicker Man soundtrack with its slightly pagan evocations and it’s a credit to the artist that she is able to conjure such imagery so convincingly.
Adjectives such as bewitching and spellbinding can be used to describe this listening experience such is its impact. I recall a contributor to the stoner rock/doom metal documentary Such Hawks, Such Hounds claim that the more politically turbulent the world is, the more otherworldly the music tends to be, and when it comes to Somnambulistic she is spot on in her analysis.
Scribed by: Reza Mills