First published: https://www.ambientlightblog.com/plum-green-sound-recordings/
When I first reviewed folk-goth siren Plum Green back in 2012 I may have been a bit harsh. I compared her performance on her debut to Rushes to Evanescence’s Amy Lee, noting that this was a singer in search of her voice. With this new collection, I can safely say she’s found it.
Born in a Brixton squat, raised in New Zealand and currently living in Melbourne after time in the former Slavic states singer-songwriter Plum Green considers herself a citizen of the world. She crafts intense, black textured material that has its roots in folk, grunge and goth but is gradually forming into its own form, dependent from all of the above. Her latest collection sits somewhere between an album and an EP. Recorded at Castlemaine’s Sound Recordings studios on all-analogue equipment it was a valid attempt to capture her ever-growing repertoire as a moment in time before heading back on the road again to take on New Zealand and Europeans stages during the opening months of 2019.
Sound Recordings rounds up material released on her last EP Karma and newer material which until now has only been only heard on stage. Given Plum’s recent wanderlust, it’s a miracle in itself that she’s found time to get anything down, and even if it is slightly rushed it’s better than nothing. The single Baby Bird is the outstanding track on this seven-song collection. It’s a catchy, clean, simple slice of pop with a build-up of fiery grunge guitars in the chorus. The sentiment is there but I wanted more from this – a guitar solo, more soaring vocals, more tension in the delivery but more than anything I wanted a bigger sound in the production. It deserves more bass and power.
Funeral Song (which was originally on Karma) took me back to wet Sundays listening to Throwing Muses, counting my blessings. Plum toys with death, destruction and philosophy dropping in images of crushed pills and dark mood spirals, pleasure and restraint. In the mix is the rather awesome PJ Harvey number Fountain which has all the intensity and power of the original. Green is capable of digging her graves with particular bodies in mind, but it’s only I Hope You Die that really she really reveals the full sharpness of her talons. It’s a deliciously venomous attack and she held back nothing. “I don’t want you going on to begin again… I sincerely hope you die!” I don’t I don’t know who it was that inspired this track but the better watch out, their karma is marked with a large black ‘X’. Kind Beast hints at the youthful vengeance of Julianna Hatfield, with a mix of vocal innocence nuanced with the wisdom of a well-travelled soul.
I’m glad to say that Plum has found her own voice, and that’s clear in her well-crafted lyrics which all sit perfectly within their own musical cages. Nothing grates or grinds, every line feels like it should be there. There’s no waste, either, as she’s economic but poignant, sharp-witted with her words. There are moments when the production just needs a boost to the next level. The sound, at times, is thin, weak in places. One or two songs, especially Baby Bird, sound like they were recorded in a dark reverberating concrete garage. These are great as ‘demos’ but they really deserve more. The metallic brightness of the room just seems to deflect the intended black mischief and the intensity of her live performances. That lets her down a little because Plum has a strong, confident voice that deserves to be heard. Perhaps Jaz Coleman or Tom Larkin could be free to reach deep into this body and drag the beating heart of her passion out into the moonlight.