All images used with the kind permission of
She compares his eyes to autumn trees and October skies, her favourite things, but fall is a short while off; this summer belongs to local songstress, the wonderful Tamsin Quin.
I’m only too happy to authorise this notion; I’ve her brand-new studio album Gypsy Blood playing on repeat. The comparison is a line from its title track; with haunting double-bass it’s the shadier, moodier side to this sublime album.
Separated into equal halves, as if we still had sides A and B, the first is upbeat, with wholly feel-good songs, while the second half is darker and deeper. Tamsin explains she decided to do this, “because there’s quite a clear mood difference between the two halves, and I didn’t feel it was right to try to integrate them together.”
Prolifically gigging, for those who’ve caught Tamsin live in the past, wondering if this is going to be equivalent to her enthusiastic and entertaining performances, if it’s altered her style or if she’s experimented with electronic drumbeats or other such silly ventures, I’ll tell you now, you’ll not be disappointed.
Opening tune, “Searching” breezily kicks off the feel-good factor with a Nashville twang. From the first notes I was adrift, submerged into its cheerily outpourings; which is unfortunate as I was supposed to be doing the washing up! I couldn’t wait to complete the chore before pressing play; I reckon I was just as excited as Tamsin herself.
For we’ve followed this project from word go; in fact Devizine’s first ever post highlighted the crowdfunding campaign, and now I’m delighted it’s here. It’s a matured Tamsin Quin, refined and professional, but still our Tammy, with her trademark white Doc Martins and stunningly unique voice. Cosy second tune “We are Home,” being a prime example, adrift I’m blissfully down one of our local pubs where Tamsin is singing away; I’m never going to get the washing up finished at this rate.
Words of guidance and encouragement for a “bestie,” or possibly a daughter recently lost a relationship is the subject for “Fearless,” as it strums it’s confidence-building melody. Similarly “Upwards,” where the narrator this time is the one assuredly rising from a broken heart and into a more positive relationship. Thus ends the gorgeous upbeat section.
Jennifer observes the return of a friend with a hopeful prose, gently easing us into this darker side. Gracefully complimenting her acoustics, session musicians Lukas Drinkwater, on aforementioned double-bass, jazz guitar and cello, music teacher and writer Tom Bradley on drums, Patrick Ward on guitar and percussion, Lee Alder from Belarus and Kid Calico and the Astral Ponies on percussion, guitar and backing vocals, and Jon Buckett on keys, organ and providing backing vocals, perfectly breathe life into Gypsy Blood, the result is something to be proud of; particularly when contemplating this second half.
Modest till the end, Tamsin explains “it really was a crazy, whirlwind of creative minds, and they made the album what it is as much as I did, if not more!”
Arguably the most adroitly written, “Seventeen,” contrasts separate narratives; a settled forty-something chap, contemplating his restricted life of manual labour and marriage troubles (yeah, can identify with him; Mrs Devizine has me chained to this kitchen sink, I swear,) to a well-travelled woman considering she’d never stayed in a place long enough to feel at home or fall in love. Feeling the unescapable path our teenage years maps for us, the grass is always greener scenario is bought to a hilt with the final character, a seventeen year old girl forced financially to walk the streets.
Mentioned at the beginning of this review, the title track “Gypsy Blood,” is heart-warming Tamsin, expressing a loving relationship. But unlike the rawness of just her and guitar, which is delightful in its own right, this is orchestrated to perfection.
Reflections of uncomfortable Dylan, or even She’s Leaving Home from Sgt Pepper, the finale “Leaving In The Night,” may be self-explanatory, but the beautiful soundscape of violin and jazz guitar left me spellbound; my scouring pad part has worn thin, it’s left up to the spongey side now.
Knowing it’s produced by the incredible Jon Buckett, a multi-instrumentalist in his own right who’s worked with Kid Calico and the Astral Ponies, Little Men and Gaz Brookfield, recorded at Earthworm Amber Studios in Swindon, engineered by Pete Hewington and mastered by Pete Maher, who’s recent projects incredibly include mastering for U2, The Pixies, The Rolling Stones and Newton Faulkner (the first three my aging head has heard of, but always assumed the latter was a famous Roundhead Admiral in the English Civil War,) it’s easy to see how this marvel has been achieved.
But it’s blooming marvellous I kid you not, taking everything great about Devizes-own singer-songwriter, rinsing it with professionalism and elegance and landing Tamsin Quin as a serious contender for stardom. Meanwhile I’ve least managed to precariously balance all the washing-up on the draining board without the necessity of an overflow tea-towel.
If you don’t believe a word of it I could take a photo, and if you don’t believe Gypsy Blood is as good as I say, Tamsin has a launch night down the Cellar Bar in Devizes next Friday, 11th May. With the It’s Complicated as backing band, it’s a fiver, plus I understand you’ll get a coupon for the album, and it’s supported by Jared Clarke and Amy Walters. Details here.
Of course if you cannot make this, like her Facebook page for gig updates, but I know she will be at Vinyl Realm Devizes on 12th May, The Cuckoo Inn Beer, Cider & Gin Festival on 19th, OwlFest in Bromham on 26th, the Southgate, Devizes on 9th June, and The Crown at Lechlade 23rd June.