The Band Called Out For More
Gabby Young & Other Animals
47:33 min • Gift of the Gab • June 18, 2012
“You need to go on to YouTube and watch this now. It’s amazing!” I was told, and I’m not one to ignore a YouTube recommendation. I find the video and press play, and am taken to an East London warehouse and greeted by a woman with vivid red hair and a tilted silver plate-like hat, strumming an acoustic guitar behind an old fashioned microphone. Behind her a couple do a beautiful piece of contemporary dance, and as the vocals begin,
I made it through the wilderness, Somehow I made it through…
I realise I’m seeing something special. This rendition of ‘Like A Virgin’ by pop icon Madonna was my first experience of Gabby Young And Other Animals, and from the first note of Gabby’s vocal I was hooked. Downloading Gabby’s EP Bear With Me and her album released with the Other Animals, We’re All In This Together, I was struck by how different this band sounds to their contemporaries. One part Gypsy Folk, one part Punk Cabaret, I was eagerly awaiting the band’s second album, The Band Called Out For More. The album’s packaging is breathtaking. The stunning artwork includes Gabby in an eccentric outfit and the overall design has an intricate Eastern feel. The CD is buried within an interlocking kaleidoscope of folds that opens like a flower blossoming. By the time the cd made it into my MacBook the excitement was almost too much. So, how was the music?
First single ‘In Your Head’, with its animated video, sets the tone perfectly. Circus swing, with a touch of gypsy folk and Gabby’s distinctive vocal, and it’s also a damned catchy song. ‘Goldfish Bowl’, continuing the tone, has a hook that will remain in your head well after your headphones have left your ears, and ‘Male Version Of Me’ is like Amanda Palmer covering Rufus Wainwright.
Gabby and her band are the cheerful side of cabaret. Whilst most cabaret artists dwell on the dark, Weimar style music made prominent over the past few years by artists like Amanda Palmer and her punk cabaret band the Dresden Dolls, Gabby and her band bring to life the magical side of the circus, with lilting waltzes and haunting brass. Listening to them conjures up images of 1920s sideshows, painted clowns playing brass instruments, tattooed and bearded ladies, bikini clad showgirls breathing fire and high wire walking contortionists. This world is most illustrated as it unfolds in a cornucopia of styles during the song ‘Open’,
I had a splinter in a horrible place… Once –
musically it is like Victorian cyber-goth princess Emilie Autumn being raped by Molotov Jukebox and is one of the stand out tracks on the album for me. This is followed by the trumpet beating ‘Clay Heart’ hung on the beautiful metaphor that her broken heart is made of fragile clay. And then the haunting ‘Neither The Beginning Or The End’ rises up out of a music box that just keeps building as Gabby sings from a first person narrative as a grandfather clock. It’s a trio of songs that will stay with me a long time.
The tracks on this album lie somewhere between plaintive folk, Victoriana and Gypsy big band, and the styles marry together perfectly. Indeed, there’s not a bad song on the whole album! My only criticism? With a small but strong back catalogue of Circus Swing and Cabaret ballads, this album offers up no surprises. It is however brilliantly written and the perfect portrait of a band that are at the top of their game! Maybe next time, a few risks next time wouldn’t hurt though!