Clayhill – Small Circle

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

Following on from Clayhill’s promising mini-album CUBAN GREEN comes their debut full-length, SMALL CIRCLE. Once again, the trio of Gavin Clark (ex of indie never-rans Sunhouse), Ali Friend and Ted Barnes (both of whom have collaborated and played with Beth Orton) paint large canvases with very few instruments but tons of heart.

For the most part, the album consists of Clark’s tortured vocals over a bed of soft electronics and strummed folky guitars, augmented by occasional flourishes of brass or warm strings. The album has a way of insidiously working its way into you, reaching a particularly effective plateau on the Talk Talk-evoking MYSTERY TRAIN, and an epic finale with the choral heights of the closing END REFRAIN.

Elsewhere, there is room for catharsis (recent single NORTHERN SOUL), heart-wrenching melancholy (AFTERLIGHT; MOON I HIDE), and joy in the uplifting sound of GRASSCUTTER (also to be found on CUBAN GREEN), making for an album that grows on you with every listen.

4 stars