Originally published and still available at Gigslutz (24/07/14).
It is certainly an unconventional tact of creativity when an individual voluntarily chooses to exile themselves to Tasmania in an attempt to ‘get lonely and depressed’; however, that is exactly what Australian singer-songwriter Gossling did in a bid to fuel that artistic flow. It failed, as many things do when one chooses to apply a concentrated dose of pressure, largely in thanks to the dire documented social experiment that is Big Brother. A quick jaunt back to familiar ground soon spurred on the musical gestation of Gossling’s debut.
The impish voice of Helen Croome – the one woman show behind the passerine moniker – is the bracing force that constructs the left-field melodrama of Gossling’s sound, with Harvest of Gold meandering between folk-tinged pop and sophisticated lounge. Intent is stated early on with the transition between delicate plucking to the buzzing, soaring tide of album opener ‘Big Love’ – finding parallels in a diluted image of The Joy Formidable – and it is a line that is channelled once again in the glittering stomp of recent single ‘Never Expire’.
It becomes rapidly comprehensible that the contrast between the music itself and Croome’s unconventional vocal is both an unusual juxtaposition and a joyous marriage, no matter which incarnation that the former presents itself. With Croome possessing such a childlike lilt to her voice, she imbues songs with a youthful naivety that jars with their lyrical content. The sultry lounge of ‘A Lover’s Spat’ brims emotive energy, and the potent melancholia of ‘Songs of Summer’ permeates the bewitching discourse between Croome and Alex Burnett of Sparkadia, whilst the plucking of strings in the subtle yet haunting ‘Pulsa’ sees Croome soar her elfin voice into impressive heights.
Brushing the more delicate numbers aside, it is the cinematic pop which Gossling crafts best, both of joyful and more forlorn ilk. Inspired by the tragic rape and murder of Irish woman Jill Meagher in 2012, ‘Vanish’ is a theatrical and melodramatic ode to the most sorrowful of ends, however it is songs such as the richly disco infused ‘Challenge’ and the glimmering, accusatory ‘Accolade’ where Croome shines brightest with swathes of bold and sophisticated radio-friendly pop.
Comparisons between other quirky female contemporaries are inevitable – the charming and unorthodox vocal similar to Joanna Newsom, the affable charm of Emiliana Torrini, and the crossover appeal of Lights era Ellie Goulding – however, Croome manages to subvert her sound into something more distinct. ‘Harvest of Gold’ combines all of the above factors forming an impish and unconventional chart hit that can sit happily alongside the kooky folk-pop tones of Danish singer-songwriter Oh Land.
There is a struggle within folk-pop for artists to stand out in fear of avoiding fading into a mediocre obscurity, and in Harvest of GoldGossling manages to do such in a manner that is elegant, accessible and – at times – even adventurous in regards to her soundscape. Croome evades brash experimentalism akin to Oh Land’s more recent work, instead opting for a fun, glittering synths laced over more conventional acoustics that unite in her vision of love and remorse. Gossling is a fledgeling songbird in the making, one that will soar on the current of her left-field pop.
See more of my Gigslutz posts here.