“Not now Dumbo, can’t you see I’m busy?” Okay, what the feck is that buffoon Spenny typing now, I may well hear you ask? Simply put, I was addressing the elephant in the room regarding the new vocalist for Alunah (dear Editor, feel free to fire me without severance pay for that awful joke). Anybody who has for some unknown reason read my reviews in the past will know that I’ve been championing Alunah for some time, and quite rightly named ‘Solennial’ as my album of the year 2017, and as such it was a bizarre experience to review the latest release from them without the presence of founder, vocalist, and creative powerhouse Sophie Day. A consolation was knowing that unlike other band changes this is one that is devoid of the traditional drink, drugs, and relationship drama of other acts, and is absolutely amicable, and beyond that, if you’re not in the band, it’s neither my business nor yours.
So, history aside, how does this first release with Sian Greenaway on vocal duties sound? Well, opener ‘Mangata’ serves as a worthy future stage intro, stark drumbeats, dragged out guitar chords, a thunderous bass, and ethereal vocal cries surely being a future sound track to the band appearing before an audience and preparing themselves for a show. The EP proper starts with title track ‘Amber & Gold’, and as a statement for future intent, it truly nails its colours to the mast. Dave Day lays down riffs from his Gibson SG as if he were the “Grasshopper” to Iommi’s “Master”; Jake Mason’s drums pound out with precision; and Daniel Burchmore’s bass masterfully works all the harder to fill the gaps left by the absence of a rhythm guitar. It’s almost as if the band were preparing the track for a live performance. Finally, Ms Greenaway powers through the whole with a declaration of intent not to simply impersonate or ape prior vocal offerings, but introduce her own distinct, siren style. ‘Awn’ continues on to showcase the depth of talent the band has, continuing on from Alunah’s prior magical and mystical themes, with Ms Greenaway showcasing her range that goes from the deep and throaty to the light and lilting over a musical score that just screams to be played live with the minimum of electronic trickery. The whole is rounded off by ‘Wicked Game’, the slowed pace and throaty cries of Sian Greenaway delivering a far darker song than the original countrified falsetto of Chris Isaak. Oh, and by the way, in my personal opinion, Him can just piss off with their onanistic yawnfest cover.
So, with all the praise I’ve levelled at this new EP, why just 8/10, and not higher, you may ask? Simply put, this is a taster of what could yet happen, and being a greedy sod, I want more. I’ve yet to see the new incarnation of Alunah live, but this solid offering does help to lay to rest many fears I, or any other fan may have had; now I’m looking forward to a full length future album, and a whole raft of live shows.