Review of Gabriel Bruce’s new EP.
Gabriel Bruce came to recognition with his song ‘Sleep Paralysis’- a dark, doom-like track where he displayed the vocal abilities of Nick Cave. His EP ‘Dark Lights Shine Loud/A Brief and Selfish Lover’ doesn’t fail to impress as a follow-up. The five tracks showcase his intricate song-writing and silkily deep vocals. The opening song, ‘Dark Lights, Shine Loud’, uses a firm drum base to support Bruce’s growling, lamenting voice: he purrs and hisses ‘suffer myself in incestuous streets’. Oxymoronically, the song is kept quite cheery and upbeat with a brass section that makes it surprisingly buoyant and jovial.
The second song opens with Elizabethan sounding electronica as Gabriel croons in an impossibly low octave (his lower range rivalling O. Children’s Tobi O’Kandi). The drum beat and bass kick in just as Bruce pleads ‘Father, father can you hear me call? Just come on back to me’- he sounds like a man begging in torment and, if it were me, I would cave to his every plea. Despite his gruff and dusky tones, Bruce is so swoon-worthy that his voice seems like one of heaven. His poetic lyrics only make him seem more divine; who wouldn’t fall for a man who writes ‘Baby, my wound is always open to you’? ‘Zoe’ has a lighter, more 1980’s feel to it. His voice grumbles along in a Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ fashion as he mumbles ‘Let’s misbehave’.
With Marvellian levels of seduction, Gabriel disgusts and tempts and brings you perfectly under his spell: he lures you in with ‘Like a fine wine you just improve with age, I’d drink you ‘til I puked out my guts’. The fourth track has a similar beginning to track two but uses the full force of an orchestral sound which shows his chameleon skills- this one feeling much more like spring than the bleak midwinter. The organ on this song working particularly to his advantage as it complements his devastatingly low voice. The final song is the masterpiece. With Jeff Buckley style music, it’s stripped back to acoustic. His voice floats over the music giving it an ethereal air. Here, Bruce is in his element; he is very relaxed and laidback as he gently lifts his voice on ‘It’s a-ha-lright’. His lyrical genius does not let up: it’s simply beautiful poetry with lines of ‘heart full of sorrow and a fist full of fight’ and ‘there’s a sound on the wind now, the song of a bird- and the chorus is an anthem, a sway-a-long, group song that makes you feel as if you were a co-creator. The whole EP wraps you in its warmth and envelopes you in a richness of sound that is unique and flawless.
On this EP, Gabriel gives you his all so, if true to the title, he may be a brief and selfish lover but he is an enduring and sharing musician.