Keeley Forsyth – Debris review

by Philip Moss

Despite the overarchingly chilling soundscapes that drift in and out across Keeley Forsyth’s debut record, Debris, its minimal, sparse feel is somehow also warm and comforting. And despite its tales often being over before they seemingly start, there’s a distinctness to Forsyth’s voice that just keeps on calling you back like the distant lights of home when lost on a windy moor.

Look To Yourself is a stand out. Melodically, it’s immediate, but it’s the folk tale that hooks – Forsyth carrying an unknowing, subconscious self confidence, as she notes that the answers to the deepest of questions are internal. Backed by the clang of pianos, which accentuate the stark, plucked backing – its desperate refrain turns from ‘we are only human’ into distant garble.

Only on Start Again, the LP’s final track, do the minimalist backings created with co-composers, Matthew Borne and Sam Hobbs, lift to be replaced by a build of understated electronics. Her reverb covered voice feels very different here too, and possibly hints at an exciting future direction.

At varying points across Debris, late period Scott Walker, Claire Cronin and Kate Bush’s 50 Words for Snow come to mind. Aldous Harding is also recalled, but in place of the overt theatrics is a realness – ‘If I could touch this sadness, I would change the world tonight,’ she decrees on centrepiece Lost. But despite the flashing similarities to an eclecticism of contemporaries, at the same time, it must be noted that Forsyth is a unique voice. And this is a stunningly unique debut record.

Secret Meeting score: 85


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