Artist: Efa Supertramp
Release Date: 2nd October 2020
Welsh solo acoustic-punk Efa Supertramp returns with Apocalipstick Blues, the long-awaited follow up to her 2015 debut Rhyddid yw y Freuddwyd (Freedom is the dream). This album plays like an audio journal of autonomous ideologies from a well-travelled sage. Effortlessly swaying from defiant outrage to heartbreakingly tender moments of considered existential philosophy. This is a record that shows a lot of growth in this artist and it needs your attention.
It’s a brave move to record a whole album as an acoustic artist and not feel the need to add extra instrumentation or feature guest appearances. However, with the exception of some solid harmonies, double-tracked vocals and some skits which beautifully punctuate and further humanize the experience, Efa has pulled it off.
Because it’s through the space and simplicity of Apocalipstick Blues that it draws its power. This is someone who has been a very vocal (no pun intended) advocate of vocal care in recent years following a run of tours where she lost or damaged her voice (See her zine Don’t Lose Your Voice). And the research into this field is clearly yielding results as there is a lot of control on display in her vocal abilities. I can therefore see how the addition of other instruments would have greatly detracted from the breathy lows and emotion-driven highs of her performances.
Although there is a lot of growth and control to the songs, don’t worry that the message or the messenger has softened at all in comparison to the last album. What we have here is someone approaching these topics not in a mellowed way, but in a measured and emotionally intelligent one. You can tell this is a writer who has lived through what they’re explaining as well as a lot outside of that “bubble” and is now recounting it so that we might learn from what they have.
One thing that keeps this album constantly flowing is a strong right hand, throwing out some varied and driving rhythms and seemingly never resting on any particular one. And that’s not just a thing that’s present track-to-track. Each song evolves through staccato stabs, toe-tapping strumming and carefully picked guitar parts, which given the obvious live situation recording, never falls apart and the push and pull of the tempo adds so much more feeling to the whole thing.
I confess I don’t understand the songs on this album that are sung in Welsh, but it’s worthy of note that regardless of that fact, they are still just as enjoyable to listen to, and if anything, just goes to further highlight the strength of the songs themselves.
After hearing the first few tracks to be released from this album via the pre-order page, I knew it was a record that had to be enjoyed sat outside with a fire and a bottle of something. I’ve no doubt once circumstance allows Efa Supertramp to tour again, you will be able to watch her perform it live in just such a situation. I’ll see you there!
Apocalipstick Blues is available here.