EP REVIEW: ‘Unfold’ by Austel

Devon-born, London-based singer Austel, aka Annie Rew Shaw, lets her pain and heartache flow freely through her debut EP Unfold. A project that took a year to complete. However, every note and word flow seamlessly as if the songs were recorded in one session.

EP opener ‘Ghosts’ isn’t a song and it’s not a poetry piece, but more of a prelude to Austel’s story. The first line: “there are ghosts in my head that cannot speak,” immediately grabs your attention. It’s simple but thought-provoking, a line that might pop up in a Laura Marling song. This is Austel telling us she has demons to exorcise.

Next up is ‘Crows’, a song that develops slowly, the music becoming more intense until it reaches a climax of operatic proportions. The lyrics in ‘Anaesthesia’ are just as poignant and perfectly balanced with the haunting nature of the music; the popping synths and electronic drums match the soul-stirring words that make these songs unforgettable.

Austel expresses herself with sincerity and honesty; her art comes from a real place. The electronic core of the music separates Austel from the vast plethora of singer-songwriters and their acoustic guitars, or R&B artists saturating the charts. While her background in jazz and classical music allows the songs to grow and progress instead of sticking to a rigid verse-chorus formula.

Unfold will appeal to anyone looking for a musical paracetamol to dull the pain of life. It will also delight music fans who seek out songwriters that actually write their own music. There’s a lot of depth to this EP, there’s a new level to discover with every listen. It’ll take a long time to tire of these songs.

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