Meadowlark – Nocturnes (EP Review)

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Bristol based duo, Meadowlark are about to release Nocturnes, a new EP that comes with three alternative versions of previously released songs, as well as their own take on a pop classic (but more on that later). The idea for the EP was to take previously released singles and strip them down, with the duo going into the studio with a string quartet for what turned out to be quite a dramatic makeover…

Throughout the EP, Meadowlark address the pain of love with the addition of a string quartet adding a soaring sensation of emotion to the softly spoken, sweetly delivered vocals. Though the vocal patterns flow very much the same, there is a change in tone. A darkness falls over the tracks, and with less energy in the background, there is more emphasis on the vocals and the fragility of Kate McGill’s voice.

Opening track ‘Headlights’ is atmospheric with a touch of elegance. You’re singing along before you even really know the words, and it’s partly down to repetitive lyrics, but also to the pure truth that comes with it. ‘Headlights’ slips so seamlessly into ‘Satellite’ that it’s almost as if it’s simply a continuation of the same track. While that much is true, there is a movement, a sense of deeper emotion. The opening of this EP was simply a taster of what’s to come, and though at first it may seem subtle, the shift makes for something incredibly chilling.

‘Eyes Wide’ follows, seeing the string quartet come in heavy. This track is straight up heart breaking (and literally eye opening); focusing on painfully familiar themes of past relationships. The track highlights the reasons Nocturnes EP is such a personal effort. It is the perfect balance of the band relaying their own feelings to a listener who can entirely relate. It builds a connection, you feel close to the duo as they invite you into their hearts.

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It’s unlikely that you would have expected to hear a version of ‘About You Now’ by the Sugarbabes on any of this year’s new records, but with this cover, you certainly won’t mind. It slots in perfectly at the end of the EP, in keeping with the themes of love and heartbreak that Meadowlark’s own songs explore. This choice of song lifts the mood of the EP in more ways than one. Firstly, even stripped down, it manages to stay upbeat, and secondly, it brings a sense of closure and acceptance, even if there is still an element of heartbreak. The third reason it fits in so well is because it’s just so damn nostalgic. Who didn’t like the Sugababes, if only from time to time?

This EP may essentially be four recycled tracks, but their message has never rung more true. Nocturnes is emotionally deep with McGill’s sweet vocals adding a touch of comfort along the way. It’s an EP that breaks your heart but puts it back together again. A short journey, yes, but satisfyingly rich nonetheless.

Nocturnes is out March 10th via Believe Recordings.