Husband and wife duo working in perfect harmony.
Blue Violet are spouses Sam and Sarah Gotley. Although ‘Late Night Calls’ is the couple’s debut under this moniker this isn’t their first musical foray together. In their previous guise as Broken Bones Matilda the pair garnered decent reviews and played numerous festivals as well as opening for the likes of Texas and KT Tunstall. Immersing themselves in deepest Devon’s Middle Farm Studios for a month-long residence in November 2019 the Gotleys worked with a new range of collaborators that included Portishead’s Jim Barr on one track. With production coming from Rob Ellis the close quarters setup allowed a respectful and collaborative approach to develop and for the duo to be experimental with their sound in a way that hadn’t happened before.
The opening couple of tracks are big bold statements of intent. ‘White Beaches’ features Sarah’s breathy vocals, both as a lead and with echoing, almost angelic soaring background input that, along with some fine guitar licks, create a memorable introduction to proceedings. On ‘Undercover’ Sam takes the lead on a song that takes that big sound opener and turns it up a couple of notches further with insistent drum and piano at the heart of matters.
It is at this point that the album settles into a pattern that belies those early impressions. Sarah Gotley’s voice is a fine thing and from here on in the songs allow those vocals to be offered up at their most emotive. At times, as on the gentle and pared-back ‘Suffer’ for example that voice seems on the point of breaking, giving the song the emotional impact that was clearly intended.
Sarah’s vocals often lead with initial minimal accompaniment before the songs build into something more, whether that be the occasional input of some distorted guitar work on ‘Poster Girl’ or something more orchestral and dramatic as on ‘Halo’ where those experimental elements are at their most pronounced.
The album is liberally sprinkled with highlights; ‘Asylum’ is the most up-tempo track featured with the two voices combining in a song delivered at a blistering pace in a style that will resonate with anyone familiar with the sound of The Pierces or First Aid Kit. ‘Rabbit Hole’ is a showcase for Sarah’s gorgeous vocals while ‘Hard Rain’ gives a rare lead to Sam alongside an incessant bass line.
Touching as it does on themes of love and beauty, heartbreak and salvation ‘Late Night Calls’ is an excellent debut for Mr & Mrs Gotley in their guise as Blue Violet. Well worth a listen.