EP: Gillie – Retirement Paradise review

by Adam Goldsmith

The second release from an artist still finding her feet, Gillie’s latest EP, Retirement Paradise, examines the search for a space which feels – both internally and externally – truly hers

 On Reset, we meet Gillie at a moment of restlessness. Emerging from the closeness of youth to the expanses of the wider world, the Welsh native worries that her softness makes her small: ‘It’s a struggle to whisper I need to be shouting.’

 Yet, there’s an active restlessness to the singer-songwriter’s frustration. A pulsing electric guitar and Finlay O’Hara’s beating kick drum clip her dotting poetry with a real sense of force. There’s the snatch of a breath before the track’s refrain breaks through. ‘How did it get back to this? / I seem to let it go again / now I’m pushing through a wall hoping to find something.’


If the first track is characterised by a rallying resentment, Gillie places her first foot firmly forwards on Leaving Alone. Rightly released as a single given its indie-pop leanings, defiance is manifested as an action rather than a struggle – revolving around a refusal to comply: ‘I’m not going anywhere. You’re leaving alone’.

The clarity of tone which characterises Leaving Alone is not, however, found on Still Dreaming. Hazy and grey, the track is almost confrontational in its departure from the EP’s rhythm. Ethereal harmonies intersperse recollections of the past – sound-tracked by floating echoes and reverb. A vehicle for demonstrating Gillie’s depth as an artist, her searing vocals are well matched by Ailsa Tully’s finger-plucking bass grooves.

 When the fog of the penultimate track lifts, there is a palpable sense of clarity which pervades on EP closer, Retirement Paradise. Gillie describes the titular track as one which ‘defines me as who I am today.’ It’s easy to see why. Here, she once more lays bare her anxieties: ‘sometimes I sit and bite my nails.’ But in contrast to the restless disgruntlement of the EP’s opener, a calm comprehension prevails. Gillie has settled into comfortable company in London’s expanding Welsh community, and in the higher-pitched twangs of a final guitar solo, there’s a reminder that brighter times are ahead for us all.

 In the first line of the very first track on the EP, Gillie asks, ‘do you know me when I’m at full capacity?’ Out on the 9th April via Skivvy Records, Retirement Paradise is a sign that we might be about to.

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