The tracks on Swallow Me hold together well and provide a listener with all the typical things that they love about Rachel Sermanni, whilst also venturing into new territory with a playful use of rhythm, melody and harmony.
With a gentle a cappella vocal entry on ‘Swallow Me’, Rachel Sermanni instantly grips the listener with her smooth vocal and her beautifully articulated lyrics. Sermanni’s gentle vocals are supported well by acoustic guitar and sensitively played strings throughout, making for a peaceful and serene listening experience.
At the end of each chorus Sermanni adds harmonic interest by taking the ear in an unexpected direction with her melismatic vocal line, before resolving the harmony each time.
‘Brighton House’ offers up that signature Sermanni sound but with the addition of a juxtaposing drum kit. This somewhat detracts from what is happening elsewhere, both instrumentally and vocally, however there is no doubt that this track is otherwise near perfect. Beautifully placed and natural vocals in the higher register make the chorus a standout here.
Sermanni tends to place a unique vibrato on certain pitches, and the melody in the verses of ‘Travelled’ really help to showcase her unique vocal qualities. This track oozes authenticity, and Sermanni has even included a phrase where she is close to running out of breath, creating a live and natural vibe. The track builds nicely, culminating in a vocal ad-lib that surprisingly carries hints of Indian raga.
Closer, ‘Love My Love’ comprises a vocal melody woven over an ostinato and makes for an intriguing and modern sound. Cross rhythms between the vocal line and the instrumental parts combine perfectly to cocoon the listener into a warm hug of sound.
Sermanni has taken a departure from some of her earlier work here and shows us that she is not afraid to experiment with rhythm and harmony to create new and interesting sounds.
Words: Nicola Evans