WORTH A LOOK?: ****
TRACKLIST: Flowers; Roots; Sober; Run To The Hills; Heartbreak Suites; If I Had A God; I Spent A Night In The Desert; You’ve Let Yourself Down; Animal; Wild; Run; Choices (Don’t Be Afraid); Why Don’t We Start From Here?
If you’re familiar with singer/songwriter Spraggan it may well be thanks to her song Tea And Toast which was a top 20 hit before she’d even appeared on TV’s The X Factor live finals in 2012.
- Read on for reasons including a link to details of live shows Spraggan is playing this year
What singled her out then as a musician to watch was her uncanny knack of focussing in on observational truth during compelling storytelling and it is a quality that continues to serve her well as she releases her 6th album Choices.
Listening to this new collection you are immediately struck by the boldness of the predominantly one-word titles and the mature reflection in the single Sober which was a song of the month for us last year and tackles head-on the problem of not liking yourself after you’ve been drinking alcohol.
There’s certainly been a physical transformation in Spraggan since we last saw her in person at a gig at Glastonbury Festival in 2017 during which we were bowled over by the quality of her songwriting but also the power of her performance and how the warmth of her character was reflected in the way that captivated and enchanted her audience.
It’s no surprise perhaps then that her lockdown gig available to stream towards the end of last year won our monsta for Best Gig of 2020.
This album begins with lead-off single Flowers which boasts Western-style guitar reminding of Ennio Morricone soundtracks and was showcased by what felt like a groundbreaking video featuring the female-on-female gaze.
It’s during Roots that the album’s predominant theme of learning from your mistakes to better yourself becomes clearer as Spraggan observes: ‘Miss my family, I miss her friends, I know I made those mistakes, It’s sad I woke up too late for us, I know it’s hard now, I know I’m fucked up.’
Sober reminds us of Ed Sheeran and it feels like it represents a songwriting evolution as well as a striking lyric. The emotion is revelatory and it’s matched by a simple yet addictive tune. Spraggan sings: ‘Sunrise guilt and sunset shame, Wish I could move and change my name, I’d like some nights I know I won’t forget.’
There’s a variety in the production and Heartbreak Suites sounds to these ears like a nod to Motown while, suitably, If I Had A God kneels at the gospel altar.
The title track lends a note of positivity to the album’s theme reflecting that we can all make choices about how we live our lives and, if that all sounds a little heavy, the escapism of the final track lifts the mood.
If you only remember Spraggan from The X Factor’s Tea and Toast, she’s lost none of that ability to pen a catchy tune and perform it engagingly. Her songwriting has moved on leaps and bounds and this 6th album feels like it’s the perfect one for those former fans who want to be reminded of her brilliance to dive back in to her world once more.