The idea of a tortured artist can be an attractive one, but sometimes artists suffer from too much; too many influences, too many layers and too many ideas. This is Gemma Ray’s problem. She’s clearly a talented guitarist, songwriter and singer with influences ranging from Sparks to Mudhoney (NB: none of this album sounds like Mudhoney), but she struggles to fit all these ideas into one singular cohesive sound.

Hence we slide from the ’60s tinged pop of ‘Put Your Brain In Gear’ to glistening nu-folk of ‘Fire House’ with neither really finding their feet. This feeling is brought home with our bonus tracks – ‘Gemma Ray Sings Sparks (with Sparks)’ – two Sparks covers by Gemma Ray covered by Sparks featuring Gemma Ray (I think). Forced to stick, in some form, within the frameworks of the originals set out by Sparks, even as she tries valiantly and brilliantly to break away at every turn, the focus gives a chance for her obvious talents to shine through. Less is often more.

By Olly Parker

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