When Woman’s Hour released their debut album ‘Conversations’ five years ago it seemed like the first chapter in a fascinating story, with the Kendal group matching sub-zero electronics to gorgeous melodies and lyricism that cut that little bit deeper.
Except not everything went to plan. Sessions for their proposed second album dragged on, while the pressures of running a band – same as with any creative endeavour – brought their progress to a halt.
‘Ephyra’ is what happened after this. Agreeing to reconvene, Woman’s Hour sifted through those ideas and brought them to complete, a kind of fragmented renewal that bristles with a rare, skin-too-few type of honesty.
Opening song ‘Don’t Speak’ ended their hiatus, and it sounds just as refreshing here – a blast of ice cold melody, brittle to the point of fragility, yet all held together by a sense of common purpose. From ‘Eden To Exile Then Into Dust’ is magnificently moving, while ‘Mirrorball’ is a showcase for their deft, almost opaque arrangements.
‘Luke’ is a terrifically well-rounded piece of music, so intelligent but so direct, the sound of a band claiming their independence. Not everything on ‘Ephyra’ is so fully realised, however, but the album’s ebbs and flows build into something potent; shards of sound, splinters of ideas, pushed together to represent the process of renewal, and completion.
If this is the last we hear from Woman’s Hour then it underlines their formidable creativity; a moving, touching return, ‘Ephyra’ is the sound of re-constructed glories.
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