‘Capture Reveal’ is the long gestating, but nevertheless remarkably contemporary, debut album from Fig By Four, solo project of Leeds music scene stalwart Sarah Statham. The album incorporates art-pop sensibilities that siphon somewhat similar influences as LUMP.
The album’s broad yet focused sonics come from Statham’s 15 years as a session musician, music educator and engineer. She has also been the touring drummer in Leeds supergroup Living Body, the bassist and backing vocalist for folk-rock raconteurs Crake, and appearances with bands such as Big Thief and The Cribs.
Intensely DIY vibrations are felt on ‘Capture Reveal’ in many ways: the bricolage aspect of the lyrics and track titles, and how it seals – in tandem with the complimentary music – a (slightly Terry Pratchett-esque) soundworld that summarises Fig By Four in unwitting style and charisma.
Opening track ‘Otherwirldly’ illustrates this superbly: “I draw my finger down the crease of a mountain”, “Is it a flame / or a hole in the sky?”. The aforementioned lyrical slant – alongside the mercurial poetics of “the content is around but not inside” from ‘Lifejackal’, a spectacularly well-coined title – derives from the influence of philosophical thinkers, political writers and poets like Gilles Deleuze and Rilke. These varied touchstones bleed into Statham’s lyrics subtly, with ample traces of Yorkshire literary power also present. This surrealist literary imagery sits atop instrumentation that’s just as transportive – especially the woozy synth-led outro.
Being her primary instrument since childhood, Statham’s impactful, varied drumming and percussion is a delight. So too is the bounty of syrupy, modernist synth endeavours. Where the opener is a mellifluous electronic curtain, the adornment on ‘All Seeing A’ is more discordant, countering the track’s overall sugary and straightforward indie superbly. Later track ‘It Is, Is It?’ pursues an even heavier destination as fuzzy oscillations enhance the melodic zeal; broadening the genre palette further, in a not too dissimilar to the aforementioned Laura Marling, Mike Lindsay project LUMP.
‘3539’ shows a more intimate aesthetic: a pretty guitar part, like a more melancholy ‘Here Comes The Sun’, mingles with the similar warmth of Statham’s wondrous vocals, while subtle percussion adds further texture. Here, the vocals are produced beautifully, petering out into an iridescent fade.
‘Plunge’ and ‘Ferrules’ exemplify Fig By Four’s multi-instrumentalist calibre even more, with bass parts as brilliantly melodic as the vocals; the latter track showing production deftness, the bass transformed into a doubly twanging sensation.
A production, songwriting, and lyrical coup de grace to maim the flailing quality of many ‘acclaimed’ songwriters, ‘Capture Reveal’ is also as emotionally vibrant as it is musically.
Words: James Kilkenny