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A Magazine for Sheffield

Invisible Ink You Tell Me

You Tell Me
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You Tell Me is the first record from Invisible Ink, a collaboration between Field Music's Peter Brewis and folk artist Sarah Hayes, who also plays in indie-pop outfit Admiral Fallow. They met performing at a Kate Bush celebration gig, where Brewis was struck by Hayes' voice. Finding much common ground in ideas they were keen to explore, they began experimenting with new sounds, both contributing songs and lyrics, and You Tell Me became the final album to be recorded at the old Field Music studio.

The result is a medley of styles whose ambition never quite succeeds. I wanted to like this record but its protean restlessness frustrated me more than anything. The relentless shifts in tone, often several times in a song, make it an exhausting listen.

There are lush strings, kitsch keys, funky guitars and never a dull moment, but it only ever feels like a taster selection, never a substantial meal. By the end the dense orchestration has become an ambush. You don't know when it's coming, but you know it's there, waiting to pounce.

Paradoxically, this record soars when it's allowed to be still. Brewis was not wrong about Hayes' voice and in many ways it's what carries the album, with a clarity that cuts through the clutter. In the simpler moments when it was just her and piano, there was the promise of something powerful. I found myself wishing they'd spent more time exploring these moments and pared back the more complex arrangements. Sometimes, less really is more.

Sarah Sharp

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