Annabel Allum – ‘Absent’ EP review

Annabel Allum

Having played the Great Escape, gained exposure from the likes of GoldFlakePaint and supported the likes of Weyes Blood, things have been getting better and better for Annabel Allum. Now she’s joined forces with Propriety Records (a creative collaboration between Thom Ashworth, who you’ll know from Our Lost Infantry, and Death of the Blogger/itoldyouiwouldeatyou’s Ollie Greville and Joey Ashworth) and Rhi Lee’s Till Deaf Do Us Party Records to release her new EP, ‘Absent’.

Opening with some stark darkness that makes way for light feedback and gently poised guitar, ‘52’ opens the EP. You don’t have to wait too long to hear the first notes sung by Annabel – and they’ll blow you away. With her captivating and enchanting voice, Annabel sings about how ‘I’ll always need a roof over our heads, no more sleeping in dens outside’, before the emotions kick in further as she discusses how she’s seen as an outsider and that ‘they don’t care that I’m crazy’. Folk-tinged in a style similar to that of Marika Hackman, there is more of a full-band sound as it enters its final throes and the choral backing vocals of ‘I’ve found our home’ are eerie and unsettling. You get the impression this is just what Annabel and Thom, who also produced this EP, were aiming for…

The emotional heart of the EP is captured in the title track as Annabel sings her way through layers of guitar effects, massive drums, and vast amounts of sadness and isolation. Her haunting repeats of the word ‘people’ towards the end are sure to raise goosebumps. ‘Prison Food’ is an equally evocative song; and it’s one that finds Annabel opening her heart in a painfully honest way. Full of self-depreciation (‘Guess you can say I’m like prison food. Lowest of the low’) to begin with, Annabel grows in assertiveness throughout the song, especially when she delivers the words ‘I’ll walk with my head held high’ with extra vigour. There’s also a repeat of the line ‘Don’t give me no pity’, showing how anyone should be happy with who they want to be.

The final song on the EP, ‘Shreds’ is dowsed in Twilight Sad-style atmospherics as Annabel first states how ‘people try to tell me who I am’ before than demanding your attention with the rhetorical question: ‘Did I make you question me?’ These words are sang time and time again, but delivered in more and more menacing style, eventually being spat out in a way that would make PJ Harvey proud… Darkly beautiful, this is an EP that draws you in with its intensity, brutal honesty and dynamic songwriting craft.

Buy Annabel Allum’s ‘Absent’ here.

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