Talk about friends in high places! Gabi Garbutt & The Illuminations were invited to support Frank Turner and The Libertines before they’d even released a single, while Edwyn Collins offered them the use of his studio in the Scottish highlands free of charge to record the vocals and other finishing touches to this, their debut album.
It’s not hard to see why she’s attracted such support. Her debut album ‘The Discredited Language of Angels’ is a great showcase for her approach, which combines deep lyrical profundity and a properly poetic bent with songs that are memorable, immediate and, in most if not all cases, pretty high on the energy front.
Said energy levels start off somewhere near the top of the dial with recent single ‘The Fool’ kicking off proceedings, Gabi’s paean to the glorious freaks and outsiders of this world given the full treatment complete with a flailing Hammond and parping brass section. ‘This Higher Place’ continues the vibe with an equally uptempo and full on accompaniment, a tale of love and running riot around the streets of a small town. Lines about fireflies, angels and “lost boys on the riverbank” raising it above being a fairly simple retro rock ‘n’ roll workout, a trumpet soaring above the mix proving the cherry on top.
The brass section. apparently overseen by Dexys’ Sean Read, is the killer ingredient in the mix, bringing the likes of ‘Heat of The Machine’, ‘Ravens and Angels’ and pretty much everything else here to life and making it shine so much brighter than the average guitar record. Gabi can definitely deliver a memorable song, too, from the speedy and careering ‘Lady Matador’ to the sadder sounding and slower ‘Armed With Love’ and ‘Notes From The Undergrowth’, the latter boasting a bit of Billy Bragg’s heart-on-sleeve honesty and rawness.
It’s an intoxicating mixture of influences, for sure. As well as 50’s rock ‘n’ roll and the soul sound of the 60’s, there’s a 70s punk edge to its philosophy and echoes of the unforgettable pop of the 80s, especially but not exclusively Dexys’. That might sound a bit old fashioned on paper but stick It on and listen to it and you’ll be swept along by some great songs and original lyrics.