by Paddy Kinsella
Hannah Ashcroft’s new single, Shadow, is a wondrously minimalist affair. Spacious synths and strung-out guitar lines surround her like mist – while Ashcroft’s words appear as if etched out on the shower pane.
It’s the first time the Manchester musician and songwriter has been granted such space to exhibit her vocal, and she takes full advantage: her voice sounding effortless and chaste, the words linger like the tones of a smoky brew. While the opening verse offers a glance through the cracks, the song truly unveils with the arrival of the chorus. Here, Ashcroft sings ‘Everyone wants to know where you go / I follow in your shadow,’ over tasteful guitar picks that bend to her whim.
A brittle song like this is incredibly fragile – just one attempt to elevate it too high can break the spell and send the whole thing crashing down. Thankfully, Ashcroft is well aware. Skilfully, she never ascends above the subtle high provided by the chorus, and tastefully lets the song leak out into the ether; its final notes lingering far beyond its run time.
Ashcroft has always enjoyed playing in the background – she plays in Lindsay Munroe’s and Chloe Foy’s backing bands – but with Shadow, we find an artist ready to make tentative, gracious steps into the limelight.
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