by Philip Moss
Rachel Sermanni’s last release – 2019’s So It Turns – was one of those quietly understated records that, given time, wrapped itself around you like the roots of an old tree digging into rich soil. But where there was a busy, almost theatrical nature to the musicality of her last album – the ruffling percussion and tangle of classical guitar doesn’t feature here. And it’s Sermanni’s guiding voice that plays Swallow Me’s protagonist.
Two years on, the Scottish songwriter in a different place. Written in the final weeks of pregnancy, it details her preparedness for the welcoming of her first child. But despite the internal questions, nervousness and doubts, there is a contentedness. It is rich in spirituality: ’You can see I’ve been working hard, Lord.’ And that honesty and openness brings a calmness. It’s there in her special voice. It’s there in the light brushing of her acoustic guitar. And it’s there in the way the strings and subtle country motifs grow, as the song builds to its subtly resplendent conclusion.
On a purely human level, Rachel Sermanni puts her faith in the process on Swallow Me – ‘It was never a mistake – I was always gonna make the right road to take. It was there all along’ – and the result is the best song of her career to date.