New Music Reviews: Hatchie, Silvana Estrada, Kelly Lee Owens

Three albums from female artists this week – the debut album from Mexican folk/jazz artist Silvana Estrada, the sophomore album from Australian dream-pop artist Hatchie, and the third album from Welsh electronic producer and vocalist Kelly Lee Owens. It’s a sign of the times that all three releases were affected by the pandemic – Estrada’s debut was pushed back two years by the pandemic, while Hatchie was forced to return from New York to Australia. Meanwhile, Owens’ LP.8 is a bonus release stemming from the spare time in Owens’ schedule afforded by the absence of touring.

Hatchie

Giving the World Away

2022, 8.5/10
Brisbane’s Hatchie serves as the bassist and vocalist for the band Babaganouj. She started recording Giving the World Away, her second album, in New York but was forced to return to Australia due to the Covid pandemic. She worked in retail during this unexpected sojourn but also continued to work on Giving the World Away, writing with her now-husband Joe Agius.

Hatchie’s debut single ‘Sure’ was remixed by dream-pop royalty, Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie. Hatchie’s previous album, 2019’s Keepsake, could be described as shoegaze with a poppy edge. On Giving the World Away the pop angle is accentuated – the lead single ‘This Enchanted’ is both dreamy and hooky. Reflecting Hatchie’s recent marriage, Giving the World Away is romantic, suiting the dreamy atmosphere.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYndjmiStl8

‘Lights On’ is a terrific lead track, especially the bridge (“Cos I can’t stop thinking about your touch”) where the lead vocal suddenly accelerates. The hidden gem is the brief ‘Thinking Of’, two minutes of exquisitely jangly dream pop. ‘Sunday Song’ feels like a homage to The Cranberries’ ‘Dream’. Dan Nigro, fresh off working with Olivia Rodrigo on 2021’s Sour, contributes to ‘Quicksand’.

Hopefully, there’s an even stronger album in Hatchie’s future. Giving the World Away is strong enough to have me exploring her earlier records, always a good sign.


Silvana Estrada

Marchita

2022, 8/10
Silvana Estrada grew up in Coatepec, a mountain town in Veracruz, Mexico. Both of her parents are luthiers, making and repairing musical instruments. Her signature instrument was made by her father – a cuatro, a four-stringed guitar-like instrument. Alongside Mexican folk, Estrada studied jazz, inspired by legendary vocalists like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. Her debut album was largely written back in 2018 – it’s all in Spanish, but reportedly reflects the heartbreak at the ending of her first serious relationship.

When these three strands are combined – the Mexican instrumentation, the jazz vocals, and the introspective songwriting – there’s a unique artist. In interviews, Estrada’s talked about how she resisted adding studio candy, leaving these songs unadorned. Her vocals are always understated, but she’s delightful on ‘Carta’, playing with her words and accompanied by tastefully sparse strings. Estrada’s cuatro picking is gorgeous on ‘Tristeza’ and ‘La Corriente’. Closing track

Marchita was held up for a couple of years by the pandemic. Estrada already started writing her next album, which she has promised will be happier.


LP.8

2022, 7.5/10
Welsh electronica artist Kelly Owens wasn’t able to tour her previous album, 2020’s Inner Song, because of the Covid pandemic. Instead, she booked a flight to Oslo and made an album with avant-noise artist Lasse Marhaug. Owens and Marhaug aimed to create music that combined the new age Celtic mysticism of Enya and the industrial sounds of Throbbing Gristle. LP.8 is more ambient and less song-based than Owens’ previous work – it makes sense to regard it as a standalone project rather than the successor to Inner Song.

Even when she’s trying to make music in the vein of Throbbing Gristle, Owens sounds lovely anyway. The standout track on LP.8 is the gorgeous ‘One’, with Owens’ clear soprano voice. There’s more ambient material than on Owens’ previous record, with beautiful pieces like ‘Nana Piano’ and ‘Olga’. Owens is effective on the spoken word pieces, like ‘Quickening’ and ‘Sonic B’, but they hold less replay value.

LP.8 isn’t as fully-formed as Owens’ previous two records, but it’s a successful expedition into more esoteric territory.

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5 Comments

  1. All interesting picks outside my core wheelhouse. Based on my very first impression, I’m mostly intrigued by Silvana Estrada. I like her bare-bones approach. I also enjoy the cuatro as an instrument – how cool her cuatro was made by her dad!

    Hatchie has a good sound, particularly on “Lights On” and “Thinking Of”. I can also hear your comparison to The Cranberries.

    • Thanks for listening. Estrada is interesting- it’s a shame I don’t know Spanish because apparently she’s a good lyricist too.

      Hatchie hits that nice sweet spot for me where it’s arty and poppy at the same time.

  2. Out of all of these…, it’s Silvana Estrada who I can relate to the most because of the pure music coming out of her…you can tell she loves music itself.

    • Yeah, I wish I could understand the words. She got a decent amount of attention for a debut album.

      • It sounds corny but you could tell she was so genuine…she loves music and it showed when she played…being a star doesn’t seem first on her agenda.

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