Aural Air, a.k.a. Dublin-based singer-songwriter Laura Rai, is a recent arrival on the indie scene. Although she’s been playing music for several years, Laura has only recently started releasing it to the world and spent the past year playing a number of live shows while releasing a couple of well-received singles.
Her debut EP, The Torpor of Minds, drops in late November 2017. Her style is enigmatic, haunting and beguilingly dream-folk, drawing comparisons with St. Vincent, Slowdive, Jeff Buckley, and Warpaint.
The album opens with ’60s guitar flair, overlaid with Laura’s haunting vocals, as “Serpent Speak” adjusts tempo and tone. A tease of a track, is it flirty or angry? Either way, it’s engaging, and its intrinsic variations are a precursor for “The Vanishing Dove”, which also starts as it definitely doesn’t mean to go on. Pizzicato strings lead into dream-pop percussion and smoothly floating vocals, creating a jazz vibe before curling up into a snug finale.
Dropping her register, Laura opens “Medeina’s Wolves” with reference to the EP’s title “the torpor of minds, they gaze to their faces”. There’s an aura of early Kate Bush here with experimental arrangements and extended range providing a slightly spooky feel to the delivery.
Completing the EP with two bonus tracks, Aural Air assures listeners of value for money. “The Heir of Indignation”, previously released as a single, offers Laura’s signature mesmerizing vocals over simple guitar. Sweetly enchanting, echoing with softly spoken spells:
‘In the shadows of the meadows,
In the corners of your mind,
when you suddenly so suddenly
then soon remember why,
that they’re watching and they’re waiting in their vein hypocrisy
for the terrors that give birth to my stubborn apathy.
I’m the heir of indignation, but a cousin of the kind,
a thousand Pyrrhic victories are all you’ll have to leave behind.’
Closing track “Edinburgh” provides a more traditional folk-aligned offering, in 3/4 time. Laura’s vocals move from simple story-telling to her signature ascending range, supported by a depth of strings and percussion and ending on the perfectly resonant ‘don’t go’.
This is a dreamy collection, for listening when relaxation calls but the mind needs something to engage and entertain it. The talent and originality in Laura’s writing and musicianship is undeniable. There’s every chance that this debut marks the beginning of a career to watch out for.
And if you’re in the Dublin area, head along to The Workmans Club on 16th November where she’ll be supporting Nocturnes.
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