Premiere: George Gadd & The Aftermath - 'Sycamore/Wrist'
Informal kingpin of the Nottingham singer-songwriter scene George Gadd re-emerges into the world of new music with a two-tune live visual from the locally revered Mount Street Studios.
Following a near two-year gap since the ceiling-breaking single Shake A Ghost, now the gold standard and an established anthem amid the thriving local folk scene, the sense of intrigue into what would follow in the 27-year-old’s catalogue has only grown in the vacuum. Underpinned by the recently named long-time collaborators ‘The Aftermath’, made up of Ciaran Grant (guitar/synth), Dan Hess (bass) and Xak James (drums), the Gadd-naissance begins with Sycamore/Wrist, an Americana-meets-shoegaze live session from Nottingham’s Mount Street Studios.
Commencing with a reworked full-band rendition of an intimate cut from debut EP Better Shape, Sycamore rediscovers its roots better in the new arrangement, the pounding drums and electric breaks granting an energised quality to the once dreamy acoustic tune. Kicking off the session, however, is an ethereal mix of keys, synth loops and guitar tones that wouldn’t sound out of place on a record from Nottingham peers Eyre Llew. Eventually, Sycamore finds its way back to its principal songwriter as, post-guitar solo, the room draws in around George, his Telecaster and the unison vocals of The Aftermath for the titular lines from the debut – “Breaking into better shape I left you/How am I supposed to find my way out?/But darling I’m fine”. Drawing colour to its leaves three years after release, Sycamore now finds itself in bloom as a tight and poetic piece of alt-rock.
Underneath the two tracks lies a key emotional contrast; where Sycamore bears an exhaling acceptance of life’s realities, the stark Wrist erupts with a restlessness perhaps not immediately evident from Gadd’s easy-going live persona, and the shift is reflected in a midway visual transition between sepia and monochrome. Reminiscence of a broken promise turns into a desperate yearn for yesterday as Wrist pleads “Don’t you remember love?/It was written on your wrist?” in its early moments, driven by James’ recrudescent snare. Gone are the catchy bass licks and warm collective vocals of Sycamore – Wrist has urgently arrived with a whole new dimension to Gadd’s previously considered songwriting style. “Intermittent dreams/My head’s a ten-car pile-up with no-one on the scene” recalls the intimately metaphorical lyrical fashions of the likes of Conor Oberst’s Ruminations, as the guitars roll with a weight previous releases have only hinted at. Reaching its breaking point as Gadd replies to the aforementioned question with “’Cause I do”, one gets the feeling George Gadd & The Aftermath could have jammed off the back of Wrist’s emotional crescendo for a further five minutes, an enticing prospect for a potential full band return to the live circuit, no doubt.
Leaving listeners from Nottingham and beyond with a simmering excitement for a reimagined back catalogue and a deeper newfound sensitivity in the songwriting, Sycamore/Wrist is a fine pitch for the re-debut of George Gadd & The Aftermath.