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Wednesday 28 February 2024

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A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing – Tenci. 

May 14, 2023

There are very few vocalists that can use their voice as an extra element – an instrument, if you like – in their music. Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Anna B Savage. Jesh Shoman – aka Tenci – is one of those, and celebrates self-rejuvination on their second studio recording, ‘A Swollen River, A Well Overflowing’. 

With Jay Som on mixing duties for this record, there is a just sense of empowerment and expressionism, with the whole record having the feel of an art installation, and takes the best of Adrianne Lenker and combines it with the grittiest parts of Lucy Dacus.

‘Two Cups’ is the true standout on the record. It’s familiar and yet distant in its approach. A mid-2000’s landfill indie riff jumps atop such simple drumwork, it almost makes creating music seem too easy. The introduction bears some similarity to Pixies, and Izzy Reid’s bassline could have been lifted from a mid-90’s alternative staple. If all of that is to your fancy, you will have no problem getting involved with this.

In truth, the whole record dances around these uncomfortably relatable themes of life’s calamities and shape-shifting personalities, with Shoman’s despair cascading across every track with more a strobe than a shimmer. Parts of this record ensure that you draw breath and evaluate, parts allow you a distraction, all of it is greatly enjoyable.

Will Madden.

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