New To Us – Storm The Palace

Storm the Palace by Arnab Ghosal 2014
Photos all by Arnab Ghosal –

Storm The Palace are a five piece, fronted by singer Sophie Dodds. Sophie is joined in the band by Pippa Murdie (backing vocals, mandolin), Gordon Webster (drums) and Sam Wilkinson (bass), as well as Reuben Taylor (piano, accordion), known for his work with Meursault and James Yorkston.

Storm The Palace’s sound combines the crystal clear folk-tinged melodies of The Unthanks or Nat Johnson, with the French baroque-pop of Françoise Hardy and the stylised, cinematic instrumentation of Scott Walker.

Although Sophie now lives in London, the record was dreamt up in her native Edinburgh. The capital, and second largest city in Scotland, Edinburgh is home to around 500,000 people. Edinburgh has a thriving cultural scene, due at least in part to it’s youthful population, with a percentage of young adults second only to Aberdeen. Whilst most famous for it’s comedy and theatre, Edinburgh also has a thriving music scene, as demonstrated by the recent success of the likes of Young Fathers, Meursault and Siobhan Wilson.

Although they have only just released debut album, Snow, Stars and Public Transport, Sophie started working on it some nine years previously. Since starting to perform live in 2013, Sophie has gradually acquired bandmates and formed the band now known as Storm The Palace.

Snow, Stars and Public Transport is in many ways an accidental concept album, inspired as it was by snapshots of city living. Sophie, without ever setting out to, stitching together a series of vignettes inspired by life in London, the people who passed through it, and how the constantly changing city affects the lives of those who live in it.

The album is something of a journey through genres; La Lido merges strutting flamenco rhythms with a huge indie-pop chorus, House In The Clouds is urgent Lau-like folk, with epic post-rock choruses, and Nadir has a touch of cabaret to it’s atmospheric chamber-pop. The record is held together throughout by Sophie’s vocal, clean, rich and perfectly enunciated throughout, it’s the one constant on an otherwise shifting musical pallet.

Stand out moments include recent single, The Moon Above Villiers St, a brooding and tense piece, built around an intriguing time signature, the fluttering balkan-like sound of a repeated mandolin phrase, and the pure crystalline beauty of the soaring vocal harmonies. Lyrically it takes aim at the powers that be who are only willing to help themselves, as Sophie sings, “the politics of envy, the politics of greed, never lift a finger until you’re the one in need”. It’s an old message, but one that sadly continues to need repeating.

Why Not?
With heavily enunciated vocals, orchestral flourishes and somewhat old fashioned influences, the sound of Storm The Palace is a long way removed from current musical trends. There’s a good chance this is a record that could fly under the radar, which would unquestionably be a real shame.

Snow, Stars and Public Transport is out now via Abandoned Love Records. Click HERE for more information on Storm The Palace.

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