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Shelleyan Orphan - We Have Everything We Need

  by Anthony Middleton

published: 5 / 9 / 2008

Shelleyan Orphan - We Have Everything We Need
Label: One Little Indian
Format: CD


Experimental, eclectic alternative pop on fine fourth album from Bournmouth-based duo Shelleyann Orphan, who are back after a sixteen year hiatus

Like a shy, exotic flower, Shelleyan Orphan have bloomed after laying dormant for 16 years and it really was worth the wait. Having released three albums in the late 80's and early 90's, Caroline Crawley and Jem Tayle disappeared as a duo and, if anyone gave it another thought, were not expected to be heard of again. Named after the Romantic poet, Shelleyan Orphan are what there were rather a lot of in the 1980's. Bands that either were very intelligent, well read and really wanted to fashion something new, or bands that had pretensions to be all that. Despite wearing their influences on their shoulder so blatantly, they really do fall into the former camp. Crawley takes most of the vocal duties and with a voice this colourful, this warm and brim full of feeling you can see why. From the opening number, 'Body Sighs', she is right at the forefront, holding her own with a dense background of strings and keyboards. Apart from quality writing and Crawley’s rich, slightly husky singing, there is little overall in the way of connecting theme to 'We Have Everything We Need'. Strings are utilised then happily dispensed with, some numbers are based acoustic guitar. 'Something Pulled Me' is pure, happy, middle of the road country, but in this context, a great contrast to the richer, more serious songs. Tayle has a hard act to follow after Crawley has taken the lead on the first four songs but with 'Evolute' he delivers one of the album's restrained, brooding highlights. There is so much contrast on this. 'Host' has Crawley backed by what sounds like the noise your telly used to make when they stopped transmitting, or drone, as I believe it is called in the business. 'Then Your Shoes' is a brisk, pop song energised by a string section. Often, strings are slung onto pop songs to give it a gravitas they hardly need or deserve. Here it is used sparingly, with precision. The wonderfully titled 'I’m Glad You Didn’t Jump Out of the Car That Day' is the first duet with a stumbling, near comic, rhythm. The mood immediately changes. 'I May Never' apparently had everyone in tears when it was recorded and it’s not hard to see why; its rare to hear such a direct, honest song of love lost. This is obviously the sound of a contented pair, at ease with their abilities and willing to plunder any genre they see fit. Each song surprises, contrasting and complementing the rest. That is not to say it is disparate. It has enough continuity to hold together as a whole album, even when the last number 'Everything We Need' takes a quite different, ambient pastoral turn, albeit with a vocal that sounds helium induced. Quite brilliant.

Track Listing:-
1 Bodysighs
2 How A Seed Is Sown
3 Judas
4 Something Pulled Me
5 Evolute
6 Host
7 Your Shoes
8 I'm Glad You Didn't Jump Out Of The Car That Day
9 I May Never
10 Beamheart
11 Bosom
12 Everything We Need

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Interview (2009)
Shelleyan Orphan - Interview
Classically-influenced group Shelleyan Orphan caused surprising controversy in the 1980s. John Clarkson talks to Caroline Crawley and Jem Tayle from the group about those years, their recent reformation and much acclaimed new album, 'We Have Everything We Need'

live reviews

Slaughtered Lamb, London, 16/4/2009
Shelleyan Orphan - Slaughtered Lamb, London, 16/4/2009
At a sparsely attended gig at the Slaughtered Lamb in London, Anthony Strutt watches reformed 80s duo Shelleyan Orphan play a lushly beautiful and intimate set

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