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Caroline Shaw: Let the Soil Play its Simple Part

Caroline Shaw (vocals); Sō Percussion (Nonesuch)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Caroline Shaw
Let the Soil Play its Simple Part
Caroline Shaw (vocals); Sō Percussion
Nonesuch 7559 7915969   41:30 mins

Caroline Shaw seems to sprinkle a special kind of magic across every project she embarks on. This latest venture with Sō Percussion is every bit as vivid and colourful as the acclaimed Narrow Sea released earlier this year. While Let the Soil Play its Simple Part is in one sense a ‘solo album’ (Shaw’s radiant  vocals are heard throughout), it is also an experiment in deep collaboration: ‘The prompt for all of us was: What would we make in the room together with no one person in charge, like a band writes in the studio?’ The result is a glorious, genre-defying disc by turns poignant, celebratory, complex and direct.

The disc draws on a deliciously eclectic range of sounds, including marimba, steel drum, looped vocals, electronics and (seemingly) cascades of small glass bottles, while the texts range from an Anne Carson poem to the Bible’s Book of Ruth to Shaw’s own luminous words. The disc deftly shifts between rhythmic punch and delicate introspection: ‘To the Sky’ finds the voice enfolded in intricate polyrhythms, while ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ reimagines ABBA’s classic as a sparse, melancholic Bach chorale. Beautifully performed and expertly produced, this is music-making at its most vital, expressive and imaginative.

Kate Wakeling