EP: Iona Zajac – Find Her In The Grass review

by Craig Howieson

Find Her In The Grass takes the most elemental of components to create an arrestingly majestic set of songs

Many petrol heads would argue that it is what is underneath the bonnet that interests them; the intricate balance of vital components – all aligning in a majestic mechanical display. But if you were to probe deeper, it would likely be the roar of the engine itself, and the dizzying speeds it can propel them to, that really set their heart racing. The same can be said for music. Yes, there is beauty in complex arrangements and technical prowess, but it is all for nought if the feeling is not there, and if no tangible connection to the listener is made.

Iona Zajac’s debut EP, Find Her in the Grass, is a masterclass in using the bare minimum to make the biggest connection. A collection of her poems, set against little more than an acoustic guitar, the four tracks mystify and entrance, and reveal more with each passing listen than any compositions with these bare building blocks should. Zajac’s Scottish roots, which wrap around a youth spent in Edinburgh and Glasgow, still twist their way into the core of the music from the now Dublin-based artist. It is in the highland breeze that bristles through the heather and drives her voice forward on Accidents, and the mournful bothy ballad lament of the EP’s stunning title track. And her proficiency on the clarsach has bled into her guitar playing style, both rhythmic and melodious, but never stealing from her literate vocals that float and scorn but never settle. Steeped in tradition, her songs are a trapeze of sorrow and relief, of hope and its true meaning.

There are many acts with whom Zajac’s music might be compared to. However, her willingness to dwell in the dark so that her moments of light are as sparkling as a Cairngorm sunrise, and her range that crosses not just decades but centuries, make this EP rather special indeed.

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