I Am Niamh, the alter ego of Irish musician Niamh Parkinson, has spent the better part of the last year working to ready her debut album for release. After already sharing its title track with the world, the singer/songwriter is finally ready to unleash Wonderland in its entirety. Best described as operatic pop with elements of trad, folk and even the occasional hint of R’N’B, the fourteen track compilation has a remarkably original style that keeps it gripping from opening to close.
Beginning with the aforementioned lead single, a high pitched harmony erupts amid piano keys, while the addition of a chant and strings ensure an active atmosphere. It acts as an early showcase of Parkinson’s wide vocal range and gets things off to a fascinating start. It’s succeeded by the playful percussion of “New Home” ahead of a fast paced and utterly absorbing melody which generates a fun and cheerful ambience. Remaining light and characterful, it exhibits the stunning nature of its artist’s voice in extraordinary and enthralling ways.
“Wait Until The Morning Comes” claps into jubilant piano keys and another happy harmony. Strings set in during the verse and grow optimistically alongside the rest of the instrumentation to forge an uplifting, emotionally stirring sound. “Bellend” glides towards ethereal strings and piercing vocals afterwards. There’s a strong dream like quality to this piece as it develops gently and has an immense calming effect.
“Sent Box” skips forward upon innocuous keys, featuring intermittent cutting strings. These unfold behind a soft and penetrating melody that rings out passionately before arriving at a moving and boisterous instrumental climax. The fast and funky beat of “London” captivates in its wake, leading to a vivacious verse. There’s a whimsical, tongue-in-cheek vibe that gradually dissipates as things progress and become more dramatic in the middle. Its complex yet smooth execution is incredibly arresting.
Fading in ominously, “All for View” takes up a much more serious disposition than its predecessors. This is further emphasized by foreboding vocals and frantic instrumentation that give the proceedings a very compelling dark edge. “Fool” heads back in a brighter direction before going on to build to an urgent chorus. Taking a simple and soulful approach, it ends up being quite affecting.
The purposeful melody and forceful instrumentation of “Cyclops” follow ahead of an upbeat and dance-like successor. Arriving as a complete departure with a heavy electronic flair, “Hang On” bounces along determinedly, free of any major vocal assistance. The cinematic strings and penetrating harmony of “Change the Pattern” take over in its wake, resonating through the senses and exciting as they do so.
“Conversations with Bunny” is a quirky and erratic number that transitions between a vast array of moods. The reserved instrumentation and sprightly vocals of “Turn Back” bring a sense of serenity next, which is soon superseded by the extremely atmospheric demeanour of “Creep”. Featuring a melody that echoes across portentous electronics and acoustics, this haunting finale brings things to a suitably eccentric end.
I Am Niamh has created the most invigoratingly unique compilation that anyone is likely to have heard in a very long time. Its flawless fusion of theatrical motifs with the narrative nature of folk and melodic manner of pop makes for a truly exhilarating and singular listening experience. Wonderland far surpasses the expectations set by its intriguing lead single and I most definitely recommended checking it out when it hits iTunes on May 5th.