She’s come a long way since becoming a household name as the voice of the John Lewis Christmas advert, becoming synonymous with teary eyes across the nation. Remember the sad-looking snowman? Yeah, I’m welling up too.
But fast forward five years and Gabrielle Aplin is bringing back her signature lilting style in her most recent EP, consisting of four stunning new tracks. The first, ‘Waking Up Slow’ gaining the most traction online as the first song to be released with its’ accompanying video. The music video itself fits the song perfectly, capturing her eclectic style both in voice and fashion- think pink satin, heavy glitter and bold metallic.
The haunting vocals we associate with her ‘Power of Love’ days are clear from the first note. As the song progresses the listener can feel the transition to a new pop-centric style, making it appear that it’s not just her hair that’s changed since 2013 (she’s blonde now if you didn’t know). The chorus “all my nights taste like gold, when I’m with you it’s like everything glows. And all my days we can lay low, yeah, when we’re waking up, we’re waking up slow” makes you feel like you could be dancing in a field at a festival you’ve never been to. This seems to be the vibe she was aiming for, with much of the video set in a blurry woodland giving it a slightly off-kilter feeling which is almost hypnotic.
Aplin describes the song as about “Appreciating life as it is and focusing on the positives and deciding to just be… the video centres around the idea of not being able to sleep, and turning the night into an adventure instead of a frustration with no real line between reality and a dream.”
‘Say Nothing’ the second release on her EP draws on influences from ‘Waking Up Slow’ with a similar electric-pop feel and soft but powerful vocals. Lyrics like “tell me it was a mistake, tell me how your heart breaks” suggests Aplin is writing in hindsight of a broken relationship. There’s a sense of underlying desperation in the song that sets it apart from ‘Waking Up Slow’.
Lyrics like “Twist the truth” and “”It meant nothing anyway” suggests she has experienced a partner being unfaithful, and paired with a heavier drum beat ‘Say Nothing’ has that ‘kind of want to angry cry/kind of want to dance’ vibe – AKA the perfect breakup song.
‘Stay’ stays true to her new style (if you’ll pardon the pun) but draws more obviously from her past releases; slowing things down and bringing in a greater level of storytelling. “The time’s gone by on a runaway train, and I don’t know where he’s going or if he’s back again” is an example of this song being more wistful and melodic than the previous two.
‘Used To Do’ is up-tempo in the same way as ‘Waking Up Slow’ but feels sweeter and softer with the gentle picking of a guitar in the verses. Aplin’s effortless sound is as feel-good as ever in the last of the four releases on her EP, regardless of the lyrics which again hint at heartbreak. This seems to be a trademark of her music; taking themes of heartbreak and broken relationships and pairing them with mesmerising lyrics make for a unique sound.
Her EP ‘Avalon’ is a collection of beautifully written songs which leave you with the feeling that she’s talked you through her own momentous experiences- both the upbeat and the uncertain. If you need a few minutes of happiness stick the kettle on and this EP, but be prepared to be humming each tune for the foreseeable future.