The Last Mixed Tape reviews All My People, the debut studio album from Maria Somerville.
There’s a lingering feeling of isolation that lies beneath the music of All My People. An album in the truest sense of the term, Maria Somerville’s debut offering bends the medium to its will and creates a world unto itself, obscured by sound.
All My People is an album that beguiles you. Drawing you further and further into the dark, deep soundscapes found on the opening track ‘Eyes Don’t Say It’, whose washing bedrock of building vocals and minimalist beat set the scene for a record that is a masterclass in creating mood, tension and intrigue through blurring the lines between foreground and background.
Maria Somerville’s attention to detail also lends itself to this mood building. The structure of All My People weaves from the abstract ambient music of ‘Undoing’ to the open sense of relief given by the gentle swaying of ‘Dreaming’ and back again to the ominous brooding stark beats, and whispered vocal of ‘All My People’. This undulating track-listing makes for a palpable ebb and flow within the record resulting in the over-arching cohesive thread that holds it all together.
There is much to unravel in All My People. Although Somerville works with alternative, minimalist and electronic sounds in a way that is dynamic and attention-grabbing. The record as a whole is understated, this is in no small part due to Somerville’s hushed vocal performance throughout. Her voice is everywhere on the album, but never dominates instead it weaves itself within the production to become part of the overall milieu whilst never becoming drowned out by it. This approach is best seen in the album closer ‘Brighter Days’, where the haunting vocal rests just slightly behind a ticking rhythm, almost supporting it and becoming a part of the backdrop adding to the obscured hazy atmosphere.
A dreamlike experience, All My People is a totally fulfilling listen. Everything about the record showcase Maria Somerville as an artist who puts craft and care into her music. Producing an album that works as one whole piece, Somerville’s debut is compelling in its sonic cohesion and the vast canvas of sounds Somerville uses to tell her story. A work of immense precision and subtly.
All My People by Maria Somerville is out now.