Review: Cordelaine Giant – s/t

Originally published by Fortitude Magazine.


London two piece Cordelaine Giant are developing at pace. Their beautifully packaged 4 track EP was partially funded through that most modern of devices, Kickstarter, as was the video that is due to follow. Drawing on the great traditions of the ethereal songsmiths (with a tickle of Lisa Loeb, if you remember her), the duo put forward a compelling collection.

Keeper‘s opening story of terrifying pregnancy, teenage self-abandonment and the seeking of refuge in the beds of strangers is an eye-opening one. Sophie’s oh-so breathy voice is a welcome narrator of these tales, backed by her own acoustic and the western dream-state of guitar/banjo/harmonica/drummist Kevin. Indeed, the interplay between the instruments, and the delicate, overt restrain so dutifully applied to each piece is a huge part of these beautifully skeletal songs.

If there is one criticism of the record as a whole, it’s that while the songs are engaging enough to hold water with their minimal structures, certain elements are underplayed where more credence should be given; Sophie’s acoustic, which sounds like real wood on its own, evaporates in the mix beneath the other instruments. Although the band’s whole ethos centres around being only half there, there are some excess moments, with the third minute of Kings & Queens dragged down by its own loveliness.

Crafting a track in memory of a friend is a risky gambit, but the composition of Sebastiansupports this decision fully. One of the most fully formed tracks here, the subtly escalating speed in the later sections only serves to make the dualling electric guitars sound more like crossing fireworks. A standout for its harmony work, careful deployment of drive and dynamic shifts, this is a good indicator of how the Giant might choose to evolve.

As the EP draws to a close with Nothing Left To Take, I find myself listening more to the colourful, gossamer instrumentation than the vocals, too fragile now against the room-reverbed banjo and occasionally surfacing guitar. A short fade out, and it’s all over. I couldn’t help thinking that a fifth track or a re-sequencing would have served to give the EP greater closure, as the record simply stops.

This is a fabulous piece to walk around to, on a shining summers’ day, feeling the gentle waves of sound flow through you. Closer inspection yields a couple of stories that are genuinely affecting, grim even, and that duality gives the pair a subtle, honest edge. On occasion, there is too much hey-ya’ing to my ears, and more time should have been spent glueing the instrumentation together, so as to prevent the rhythm guitar from disappearing/vocals from overpowering the mix.

A great deal of promise abides in these tracks, and where Cordelaine Giant go from here will be intriguing.


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