Maria Shiel is a Dublin musician who categorises her sound as indie future-folk. She began her career with the Galway band Guava, playing on the same bills as the likes of the Frames and the Walls. Star marks her debut as a soloist after many years working in collaboration with other artists.
The EP is fairly impressive for one that was mainly self-recorded. It’s clear that she is a seasoned artist, and is willing to experiment with many different sounds and influences. The title track is a beautiful mix of electronica inspired acoustics and Shiel’s haunting voice, and it’s her voice that is the immediate draw throughout. It’s commanding, with deep tones that blend beautifully with the music in a way that brings with it thoughts of other female artists like Florence Welch. Shiel’s voice sounds nothing like Welch’s but it does have a similar, captivating, haunting vibe to it.
“Automatic Flow” is more of a classic acoustic track and has a relaxed, almost summery feel despite the repeated declaration that “automatic flow will make you cry”. It flows nicely in a way that compelled me to be outside in nature listening to it or somewhere sunny. It does verge on the repetitive side but it builds and becomes strong by the end.
“Departure (I)” is an entirely instrumental track that doesn’t particularly stand out among all of the other instrumentals out there. It’s not a gripping addition to the record but it does make for a nice interlude, giving the feeling that it’s cleansing your musical palate.
“All Change” brings back Shiel’s voice and a pleasantly flighty sense to the album. With her vocals, the acoustic guitar, and an effect creating gusts of wind in the background, this song is quite relaxing and soothing with a distinctly folksy feel to it. This, or “Star” are the strongest tracks on the EP by a long way.
Finally, “Home (II)” is a gentle, paradoxical mixture of veering towards melancholy while also leaving the album on a hopeful note. It is Shiel’s voice at its sweetest and sends the EP out with a whisper rather than a bang, but it works for her.
Star is available to stream and purchase on the KYO Records Bandcamp page. If you like indie or acoustic music, you should definitely give this one a listen.
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