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"So Long Solemn" is the debut album by a trio called BOUCHE. Centered around the talents of Rebekah Bouche who sings and plays double bass, Joe Sharp adds trumpets and flugelhorns and Greg Sanders contributes guitar, Bouche have a very distinctive and intimate sound that instantly caught my attention last year when they held a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the making of this album. They fuse blues and jazz elements yet also manage to come up with something distinctly different as is proved across this album and the mystery ingredient that gives them their edge and uniqueness is Rebekah, for she has a very fertile mind conjuring up many strange, sometimes unsettling imagery in her lyrics and her delivery of them with her distinctive and expressive throaty voice and an unusual way of phrasing the lyrics. Combined with Joe and Greg's superb contributions something unique and magical happens.
It's a very bold move to open the album with the sparsest sounding track which is purely Rebekah alone with "Everything and Nothing All At Once" for which she made a very striking video with Deniz Kavalali. From the first note, you know you're in beguiling and intriguing company and it captivates you for the entire album. When Joe and Greg enter on the following track "Je m'accuse Blues" it's almost a shock as the colours change and has a languid, strident and jaunty playful vibe. You can almost smell the cigarette burning from the solitary Sinatra-esque loner sat at the bar cradling a glass of whisky as Bouche pour out their blues in some dimly lit after hours club.
This is a very solid album - or should that be experience? - as each track takes you to a different place within Rebekah's mind and soul. It takes interesting chances and diversions, especially during it's more abstract sounding moments in "Yankel" with it's bed of multidubbed trumpets joined later by strings courtesy of Alastair Caplin or the epic "If I Were Queen." Rebekah really cuts loose to stunning effect in "Old Man London" as she sings about the disenchantment of living in the city that hit some very personal chords within me. Then "Twenty third Time Lucky" that follows is just as extraordinary in a totally different way. The whole album unfolds before you like this - the contrasts between each track are fascinating and they're all excellent and vivid songs.
When was the last time you actually shut out the world for an hour and immersed yourself completely within an album? "So Long Solemn" is one of those very rare albums that demands your time, attention, and care, a perfect late night album to be listened to alone accompanied by a solitary flickering candle throwing eerie dancing shadows upon the wall. Better still, it is also available as a double vinyl album and combined with the striking artwork of Rosie Reed Gold and Carrie Watkins, Bouche have created a very special album that deserves a place in your home, head and hearts.
You can buy your copy directly from Bouche at their online shop or better still, keep an eye out for the live concerts which if "So Long Solemn" is anything to go by are certain to be an experience unlike anything else.
(8th May 2016)