Gabby Sword by Gabby's World album review by Greg Walker for Northern Transmissions

7.4

Gabby Sword

Gabby's World

You’ve probably heard Gabby’s World’s hit single “Broken Necks,” a playful but serious tune about the lengths that we go to for others, that hit the airwaves in 2015. Well, this year, much like Peter Gabriel, Gabby has been releasing a song a month, for her new album of songs about queer awakening, crumbling friendships, human disillusionment, and female empowerment, called Gabby Sword.

It’s a bit like an understated Caroline Polachek or a poppier Weyes Blood, an album that struggles to hold up to her previous albums, but which is full of open-hearted and compelling tunes, like an expertly-written diary of her life put to multi-harmony and adventurous and skilled song composition.

Produced with her partner, Barrie Lindsay, (whose artist name is Barrie,) who Gabby Smith met and married after meeting at shows where they shared the bill, they are 13 songs that run the gamut from putting grandma in the old people’s home to making out with a girl on the couch for the first time. The songs feel personal and familiar, though Gabby’s poetry is sophisticated and her songs, heavy on the choruses, while not as full as her pop alternative counterparts’ work, are full enough to go for an emotional ride through Gabby’s heart and mind.

It is a beautifully original and vulnerable/powerful offering, if its rawness takes you back a bit. “The American mind will always find it / Every time the mold’s not being fit,” is how she puts it on the opening track, “Sank.” The lack in production leads you to lean more heavily on the story of the album, which is full of relatable and well-rendered ruminations on life, worthy of a second look. “Can I be shy and be imposing in one swing / Be honest with me.” It is a vocal rich album, with complex, many-layered harmonies, that draw attention to the revelatory words that Gabby is singing.

There is a trilogy of songs about her experience with becoming queer later in her life. “Fold the left lock over lock in the center / You were too polite to tell me to be gentler / Pulling on it tight I was lost in the pleasure / A mussel in the tides of your weather.” There are songs about losing friends to death and time. “I make a painting of a painting / I’m sorry about what I said / Two wounds bruise / In the shape of you.” And there are songs that pull back the curtain of the complex nature of being an artist and national influence upon other people. “The world watches us / copies our love / A thousand times / Does it magnify?”

Overall it’s a successful offering of pop alternative tunes that you will probably enjoy, especially if you’ve been in “Gabby’s World” for some time. “But hope is out there / just waiting / Pompeiian,” she ends the album. It is certainly a volcanic and hopeful record. Gabby’s World has a bright future ahead of her, and this is a simpler but satisfying pit stop on the journey.

Order Gabby Sword by Gabby’s World HERE

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