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EP Review: Annabel Allum - 'Gravel Not The Grave'

The world of Annabel Allum is a maelstrom of stark contradictions, exercising a natural curiosity with vitriolic explosions of guitar and gut-wrenching lyrical honesty. A simmering talent for a few years already, Allum epitomises everything great about DIY music, blending the creative prowess of PJ Harvey with the stagnant growl of the Seattle grunge movement.


Having cultivated a swell of praise off the back of impressive festival shows and support slots, Allum’s third EP is a journey of self-discovery and affirmation, capturing the breaking down of social discourse and modern culture, whilst accepting change and establishing firm ground for her fiercely independent feet to stand on.


The raucous opener Baby Berlin harks back to some of the true greats of modern British indie rock; the staccatoed guitar twangs calling on early Bombay Bicycle Club, whilst the surging chorus carries crashing blues rock undertones. The nonchalant thud of a drum kit bolsters a track that stands tall, resolute and defiant from the outset, whilst Allum’s snarling vocals are raw and unwavering.


Time To Go / Estivation sees waves of crashing guitars and drums ebb and flow, pushed and pulled by the delicate vocals that float calmly above the surface of instrumentation lying serenely underneath the melodic soundscape, whilst the Florence Welch-esque cries emit the vulnerability of an artist injecting their heart and soul into an expansive new body of work.

"Allum’s third EP is a journey of self-discovery and affirmation, capturing the breaking down of social discourse and modern culture."

A DIY-artist at the very core, Allum’s imagination and sensitivity is as impressive as the astute experiences she pens; a visceral and contemplative troubadour for the modern generation, carrying a timeless prowess that Patti Smith commanded back in 1970s New York. ‘Have you ever seen what you wanted to? / Have you ever felt what you wanted to?’ the artist cries on When The Wind Stopped, an existential questioning that provokes honest conversation of how people truly feel within themselves and with their place in the world.

"Gravel Not The Grave is a celebration of guitar music from the last thirty years, bringing the likes of the Seattle grunge movement and Radiohead alongside contemporary British sounds."

Spinning the EP on its head, the thrashing, twisting You Got It Good brings Allum’s tenacious vocals to the forefront. The no-frills, no-spills, short-and-simple chorus contrasts the moodier breakdown of the track’s verses, whilst the latter stages of the single sees sparks of Radiohead and The Smashing Pumpkins fly into the mix; string-bending guitar lines crafting a grunge-inspired concoction for listeners to bask in.

Image courtesy of Stephanie Carral

‘Here we stand, raise your hands,’ the young artist cries on the EP’s title track, a sprawling whirlwind of energy and tenacity. Whilst a crashing cacophony of drums, guitar and vocals falls to the ground with a cathartic chaos capable of bringing together a tired and confused generation, the EP’s closing track Not Where You Pretend You Are sees all pretence and instrumental showmanship fade away. The stripped-back guitar ballad showcases Allum’s talents and, once the bravado of a band has been taken away, a vulnerability quivers through the vocals, highlighting the multi-dimensional entity that Allum has become.


Annabel Allum oozes charisma, bounding from track to track with a hapless shrug and ease of mind, her close-to-heart narrations binding together with a snarling blend of instrumentation. As an EP, Gravel Not The Grave is a celebration of guitar music from the last thirty years, bringing the likes of the Seattle grunge movement and Radiohead alongside contemporary British sounds, whilst also acting as a relentless statement of intent from a young artist only just discovering the outskirts of her potential.

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