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  • Tom H

Bryde | Like An Island (debut album)

Photo of Bryde by Bryde and Jamie Ahye

Let me start out by stating that is one album release I'm truly thrilled to share with you. The stunning debut album, Like An Island, by London-based indie singer-songwriter Bryde (a.k.a. Sarah Howells) has been a masterpiece in the making for some time. It was just three years ago that Sarah's then musical project (Paper Aeroplanes) had just released their album JOY, when the duo decided to go on hiatus. It was during this break that Sarah's solo project Bryde was born. From the early, stripped-down Chocolate Factory Sessions demos, to the companion EP1 and EP2 releases that launched breakout tracks like "Wait", "Help Yourself" and "Honey", I've listened to and witnessed this incredible songstress spread her wings and skyrocket into a cutting-edge solo artist and trailblazing musical force.

Like An Island embodies eleven outstanding, engaging songs that narrate Bryde's musical expanse over the past few years. This is an album that's nicely sequenced and presents a harmonious balance between what I call the 'sweet' and 'salty' facets of Bryde's musical terrain.

First the 'sweet' - the songs that showcase the delicate, fragile and vulnerable surface of Bryde. "To Be Brave" (my favorite 'sweet') is the perfect album opener with its poignant message of encouragement - putting on the brave face and standing strong. The lovely "Euphoria", with lyrics about expressing oneself and letting go, provides the context from which the album's title is extracted: "It feels like euphoria | coming out of the dark like an island." Also, included amongst the sweet are two previously-heard Bryde compositions: a reworked version of "Handstands" (the very first Bryde song according to Sarah's Instagram video clips), and the charming, standout "Transparent" (taken from EP2). Closing track "Steady Heart" softly serenades the listener as the Like An Island voyage comes to a close, with Sarah's sweet harmonies on this track's delicate refrain: "I don't want to leave it now | You melt away into the crowd."

BRYDE "TO BE BRAVE" (Official Music Video)

Like An Island's 'salty' selections shine the spotlight on the tough, furious and aggressive musical side of Bryde. Our first taste of this hard-rocking, charged style surfaced with EP2's powerful single, "Honey." Listeners already familiar with Bryde's music will recognize "Less" and "Desire" from the significant attention and success they garnered in indie music and mainstream circles alike. "Flesh, Blood and Love" follows in a similar musical style, with its electrified, post-grunge chorus. "To Be Loved" (originally from EP1) appears here reworked and amplified with a full-band production. "Fast Awake" evokes a nod to The National (I'd love to hear them cover this!). And then there's "Peace" - hands down, my favorite track on the album. I feel that this song represents what the Bryde sound is all about. Spectacular!

Regardless of 'sweet' or 'salty', and beyond the outstanding songwriting and production, what is constant throughout Like An Island is the gleaming presence that is Sarah's distinct, strong and expressive voice - brightly and boldly narrating the eleven musical stories on this epic album, bringing them to life.

Bryde and her band are currently on tour, with scheduled performances throughout the UK and Europe. Visit her official website and social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) for details about the tour and other exciting news. And be sure to have a listen to Like An Island and all of Bryde's music on Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes and other online music sources. For any vinyl lovers and collectors out there, Like An Island is available in a stunning mustard yellow vinyl limited edition - get it while it's available!

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