"You can't help yourself" leads the chorus of the first track on Bryde's debut EP, simply titled "EP1". But my advice is that you really should help yourself to the four beautifully written and performed gems on this EP. On her Facebook page, Bryde (a.k.a. Sarah Howells) describes herself as "a girl & an electric guitar singing fierce & fragile songs", and that is exactly what you will find on this EP - all songs are written and played by Bryde herself.
The opening track ("Help Yourself") is the most powerful song on the EP, and was produced by Jolyon Thomas, who is currently producing U2's upcoming album. Lyrics like "If you can't help yourself, no one else is gonna fall for this" sum up the theme of this track. The energy from the chorus and bridge pulls the listener into the frustration and emotion in the lyrics.
HELP YOURSELF (Official Video):
"Wait" is a standout in that it showcases Bryde's sweet, melodic voice in a beautifully written track that's been getting significant UK radio play. This is great single material and has a great accompanying video.
WAIT (Official Video):
"Nectar" is minimal Bryde and is the most delicate, fragile track on this EP. Soft, light vocals on the chorus sing: "But I don't wanna be your nectar, I don't wanna be your curse. And I won't be your protector If you can't handle the impact of your words".
"To Be Loved" completes the EP with another powerful song that evokes raw energy and emotion in the chorus. The periodic guitar string bending during the verses conveys an extra necessary bit of emotion around the lyrics.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Sarah and seeing her perform at two intimate performances in Nashville. It was incredible to see firsthand how this "girl and an electric guitar" could command a room and deliver such an emotional, energetic performance that obviously comes straight from the heart. I am continually impressed by artists like Bryde who appear to sing effortlessly and "spot on" in public venues with nothing more than a mic and a guitar. Her beautiful, strong, but yet delicate voice, with soft to sometimes powerful electric guitar accompaniment, truly brought her music to life for the audience.
While this is her debut EP under the Bryde name, Sarah is no newbie to singing and songwriting. She is one half of the Welsh band Paper Aeroplanes, who have released several pretty amazing albums and EP's since 2009, and have gained quite a following in the UK and Europe. If you are a fan of electronic dance music, you might recognize her voice and songwriting contributions from a dozen or so tracks on which she has collaborated with several well-known EDM artists, including Lange, First State, TyDi, Paul van Dyk and Dash Berlin just to name a new.
Coming back to the "sound thread" theme of the blog, the first time I ever heard Sarah's voice was on a collaboration she did for Lange in 2007, a song called "Out of the Sky". From there, I learned about Paper Aeroplanes a few years later, and the rest is history.
Oh, and if you're a fan of vinyl, be sure to check out her Bandcamp page to get yourself a copy of the beautiful blue vinyl of EP1 while it's still available, and check out the Chocolate Factory Sessions, where a second edition of CD is available at time of writing.