Stunning collection by major new singer-songwriter.
Flo Perlin is a singer songwriter whose star is rising steeply. She has previously released an EP ‘Stories’ and a full album, ‘Cocooned’, but with her latest release, ‘Characters‘, she has taken a huge leap forward. The songs sound full and beautifully realised. Her lyrics have always been a strength, but here they are used carefully and artfully to create intricate little stories within the soundscapes. They are both clear in meaning, and containing depths of subtext, continuously revealing more at each listen. It’s a trick only a few writers can pull off.
Musically, the record is structured around the brush of acoustic guitar strings, touches of piano, muted drums, upright bass, though all are frequently employed with an understated swing and groove. She has been playing the cello since the age of 5, and it is an enduring presence throughout the record, but unlike some folk artists, it is used so creatively… swooping and veering around the melody in ‘Hold Up Your Head Child’, sliding through high registers in ‘Slowly Unfold’, giving a chamber feel to the intro of ‘Baghdad’.
Perlin has family roots in Iraq and Belarus, and has travelled widely herself. She has also experienced significant health issues, for herself and close family members. It is to her credit that all these influences are worn lightly in the songs themselves, clearly informing her creative development and creating a backdrop which is constantly moving and fascinating, but not overloading the songs with heavy or clumsy references.
In fact, most of the album treads lightly, though it doesn’t disguise the depth of literacy and musicality underneath. There is a quality here that is so reassuringly confident in every aspect of the record. Every note is clear and perfectly placed. Her voice is subtle and melodious, harmoniously leading you through the songs, breathing through the words like a breeze through sun-dappled leaves.
At just 8 songs and 32 minutes it does not overstay its welcome, but leaves you wanting so much more. This is an album that will easily sit beside those at the head of the singer-songwriter table, and it truly seems to herald the arrival of a major talent.