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Siobhan Miller - Mercury (Songprint)

Star rating: 
5

Mercury is the third album from Scottish singer Siobhan Miller and the first entirely composed of original material. Thematically this a development from Strata, Siobhan's 2017 album which collected songs Miller had grown up listening to and performing. After showing us her foundations on Strata, on Mercury Siobhan reveals song by song where she is now. 

The opening title track skips and snaps along, a marriage between folky acoustic instruments, lyrical piano and Siobhan's wonderful vocal. In Sorrow When The Day Is Done starts as an intimate folk song, the huge pulsing bass motif takes it somewhere else, the earworm mass vocal chorus is completely captivating and the stuff of hit singles. Spanning all points  from intimate to soulfully expansive in just over four minutes is no mean feat. Strandline is another carefully constructed and arranged song, building slowly, through a divine chorus into a powerful performance. The strings and electric guitar sound anthemic and lend intensity to the final verse. The Western Edge, inspired by A Song Among The Stones by Kenneth Steven, lightens the mood, dancing and skittering on Louis Abbott's drum playing. Siobhan's vocals layer beautifully with Rachel Lightbody's, pairing perfectly.

Slowest Days is an intimate cuddle of a song, written with Abbott it reflects on shared moments, with the authors sharing some of the vocals. It is, like the rest of this album, enveloping, captivating and sophisticated. Carrying Stream with its Ben Howard or Jose Gonzales guitar line is very contemporary, but Siobhan's vocal, solo or layered is the perfect icing on a sublime song. The Growing Dawn features another almost obligatory captivating chorus alongside a captivating arrangement where elements are added in to accent, then fall away to grab your attention again moments later. Keep Me Moving On, with a driving rhythm, 'If boredom is the illness then movement is the pill', 'if I've already tasted it then it can't be best' is the troubadours anthem to the new experience and fresh horizons, rather than just introspective excess. Another strong song on this strong album, with its positive sentiments making it uplifting. Losing is all chiming guitars and warm vocals, the chorus has the feel of a perfect poppy Snow Patrol moment as perfectly constructed and, layered as a Scottish Carpenters. An idea possibly echoed in the warm dreamy album packaging and Portraits with that summer retro hat. Let Me Mean Something starts as a duet between Innes White's John Martynesque acoustic guitar and Siobhan’s beautiful vocal. Layers of electric guitar and atmospherics drive the song on, making a powerful and meaningful closer. 

With a more complex and sophisticated sound around thoughtful songs, Mercury is a surprising development from the already accomplished and arresting Strata. One listen and its abundantly clear why musicians like Kris Drever and Eddi Reader want to be involved in this album. Siobhan’s voice is a mighty instrument, carried by all the  players and these arrangements which rise and fall beautifully, it positively demands your whole attention. 

Marc Higgins 
Northern Sky