Review | Woodpecker Wooliams

Woodpecker Wooliams 2

Woodpecker Wooliams @ The Old Queens Head, London Dec 2012

The Old Queens Head is decked out to look like Miss Haversham’s living room, with tall Romanesque columns and an age spotted mirror, as well as other eclectic nick knacks – a perfect back drop for Ms Woodpecker Wooliams, whose use of multiple instruments, foot banging and helicopter noises results in a style which is swathed in endearing eccentricity.

Similar to early Kate Nash, Wooliams’ lyrical focus centres much on drinking tea, table cloths and a boy who’s being a bit of a shit. Each of her songs carry the title of different bird breeds and this influence is further emphasised with recorded calls. This provides an interesting, although not always pleasant listening experience. The abrasive shrieking intro of ‘Gull’, is attention-grabbing, albeit largely uncomfortable on the ears (hence the track title). In complete contrast, is WW’s simple harp accompaniment that complimented the gentle sweetness of her voice; her experimental blending of folk with ‘found sounds’, such as that of squawks and a far more pleasing topping of well executed electronica in ‘Sparrow’, shows that although still in its early stages, her work is brimming with promise.

‘Red Kite – Prelude’, opens with Wooliams’ dreamlike harp, soft and lyrical, contrasting with the violent lyrics about being punched and spat on by the boy-shit. Wooliams’ incorporation of contemporary issues (a little Facebook stalking), adds humour to the otherwise doleful song filled with wailings and foot stamping, hearkening back to a folk style which ‘feels’ the music, a tactic also used at the Po’ Girl gig we saw earlier this year.

‘Crow’, utilises an antiqued taping of the American bugle call and a backing track din that consists of cow bells and white noise. Wooliams’ employ of ‘found’ music, is a method widely used by other artists, one of the most notable being, Imogen Heap and this creates a fitting mish-mash of sounds to compliment the whirl of action and emotion that is the subject of her music.

Wooliams’ ability to merge style, genres and everyday sounds shows her unique abilities as a performer. Similar to an artist with paints and a brush, she uses this assortment to create music which, if nothing else, carries her distinctive stamp. It will be fascinating to see her development as she takes off from burgeoning talent to a honed musician and TGA will be watching.

Sarah Horney


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