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Friday, October 12, 2012
Sylver Tongue, Thursday, October 11, Norwich Arts Centre
Whether the guitar over the shoulder was for style or as a comfort blanket, it was always close to Charlotte Hatherley.
The fact she reached for it twice, maybe three times, during a 40-minute set is perhaps the most telling sign.
Because when you’re creating dreamy, synth-infused songs that people can swoon over, a loud, grungy-sounding guitar isn’t the most natural sound to throw into the mix.
Singer-songwriter Hatherley returned to the city for the opening day of Norwich Sound and Vision, with her latest project Sylver Tongue.
After two solo albums released under her own name, this is seemingly about creating a new sound, fresh from past associations.
Whisper it quietly, and to be fair it has been six years since her departure, but Hatherley first shot to prominence as a guitarist in Ash.
The spiky riffs of Hatherley’s debut solo album Grey Will Fade have all but gone, the pace of the songs have slowed and are more in keeping with the more experimental attempts off her last release, The Deep Blue, from 2007.
But on last night’s showing, the songs are not simply trying to add depth to guitar-based tunes, but more considered attempts at producing something more layered.
Hook You Up starts with touches of synth before Hatherley’s vocals rise and fall, gently backed up by her bassist and a calm drum beat, which allow the song to trundle along - in a positive, dream-like way.
When you think a song is heading in a traditional pattern, Sylver Tongue are always likely to throw in a twist - which includes the vocals getting higher and more urgent or a guitar creeping in for an appearance - which works more often than not.
I won’t lie, and as you might have guessed, on reflection very few of the melodies or sounds lodge in the head - apart from the slap bass that found it’s way into one song.
But for a first-listen of a familiar talent, there’s something worth listening to, which only on repeat hearings will allow its depth and thought to truly hit you.