Findlay Napier

First Impression : Siobhan McCrudden

In Greek mythology Icarus is remembered for flying too close to the sun, with wings his father had made of wax and feathers. The tragic dénouement comes quickly, as the wax inevitably melts in the heat, the feathers are lost and he falls flightless to the sea, then drowns. The myth has other variants - but they always end badly for Icarus, and it is taken as a tale of hubristic failure to listen to advice.

Whilst the story provides an evocative title for Cardiff-based singer-songwriter Siobhan McCrudden's forthcoming first album, Icarus Girl, she does not seem to be someone who ignores valid guidance. Her debut single (out 21.09.18) has been carefully arranged and produced by art-rock veteran Grice Peters, with the upshot that it magnificently showcases her haunted, folk-noir sound.

The song in focus, The Mermaid in Your Glass, has already drawn plaudits - notably BBC Radio Wales' Adam Walton, who has said, 'Absolutely beautiful ... just stunning, the voice is something else'. Before its release, New Sound Wales had marked out her potential, stating, 'Siobhan McCrudden really does have a voice of great intensity and beauty'. Listen for a few moments and it is impossible to disagree with either statement.

There is a clear debt in Siobhan's sound to early Joni Mitchell albums, and unconsciously mirroring the small clubs and venues where Mitchell honed her craft, her first live performances were in the coffee house circuit of New York. There is also a definite familiarity with late sixties British folk bands such as Fairport Convention and Pentangle in her cultural hinterland; quietly but persistently forging her own identity from these foundational elements she has gone from understated coffee house stages to play at festivals and folk clubs, in America and at home.

In terms of recordings, all we have now is the one tantalising song, a sliver heralding the Icarus Girl album. There's undoubtedly something pastoral and slightly mystical in the bones of The Mermaid in Your Glass - it's music from the morning mist at the edge of a wood - but it's McCrudden's delicate, exquisite vocal that holds your attention. She is an enchanting, idiosyncratic new voice, and on the evidence of her debut single, the album that will follow it in December should be both extraordinary and captivating.


SIOBHAN McCRUDDEN I The Mermaid in Your Glass