‘The beauty within Ffion’s music is most definitely not hidden’
Intro to Ffion
Originally from Wales, Cambridge based singer-songwriter Ffion Rebecca creates a sound which is way beyond her years. Taking inspiration from the likes of Melody Gardott and Corrine Bailey Rae, Ffion’s music gently transports you away from the chaos of life and to her beautifully musical world. Full of story-filled lyricism and mature sounding orchestration, you can’t help but feel that at 17 years old, Ffion is already on track for success. [Read the full interview here]
Track 1: Hidden Beauty
Opening the EP, ‘Hidden Beauty’ creates a chilled vibe right from the start. Setting out with a combination of dreamy vibraphone, strings and subtle electric guitar, there is a delicate air of confidence. Immediately you are transported to a jazz club where a very intimate performance is taking place. It’s beautiful. Following this introduction, Ffions equally delicate vocal enters helping to secure the track’s style.
As the track progresses, sublime uses of vocal glissandi help the lyrics to gently soar above the developing textures and as piano, drum kit and trumpet join the opening instrumentation, you have to keep reminding yourself that Ffion is a newcomer to the jazz world. Enhancing this sensation further, scale based guitar improvisations and subtle uses of call and response between the trumpet and vocal give the track an almost orchestral jazz feel. Combine with this a scat based ending which playfully dances around and you have an opening track which fills you with anticipation.
Track 2: Two Baby Birds
Taking us away from the delicate nature of the opening track, Track 2 ‘Two Baby Birds,’ transports us across the water to music which is more 1930’s French jazz than jazz orchestra. Opening with a decidedly more upbeat feel, a combination of finger picked acoustic guitar chords and sliding bass guitar notes guide us to the lyrics as they begin their storytelling . This, as you would expect given the musicality shown earlier, creates a wonderful atmosphere. It’s light and smile inducing and combined with the romantic, yet cheeky air in Ffion’s vocal, it’s a joy to listen to.
Equally wonderful, are the bossa nova influences which are constantly re-enforced through the gently developing nature of the rhythm section. Filled with syncopation, snare drum rim shots and handheld percussion, you feel you’re just one note away from grabbing your partner and hitting the dance hall floor. However, don’t go just yet as there are still more wonderfully musical moments to come. Take the second verse a key example.
Here, a high pitched spread piano chord perfectly accompanies the lyrics – ‘Two baby birds will fly away one day’ – reflecting the idea of them taking off. Equally impressive are the uses of unity and contrast within the trumpet part, as not only does it feature fragments of the vocal melody, it also – in a similar format to ‘Hidden Beauty’ – guides through a weaving improvisation to a thrid verse and final chorus.
Track 3: Love Away from Home
In some ways surprising, Track 3 ‘Love Away from Home,’ has a much more regular feel in comparison to the previous tracks. In an equally unexpected way, the introduction – being short and chord based – doesn’t really give too much away. However, the initial background sounds, which resemble boat rigging gently moving in the breeze, do hint at the idea of travel and going away. It is again, a contrast to what has come before, but one that like before, perfectly demonstrates the depth of Ffion’s beautiful musicality.
After the introduction, the track takes on more of a pop ballad structure rather than a traditional jazz one, but don’t let this put you off. There is much to enjoy. Not least the subtle way that the texture of the track develops with each rendition of the romantic sounding chorus. It’s so subtle in fact that you don’t even realise until after, but through introducing an intricate acoustic guitar accompaniment and adding backing vocals – alongside Ffion’s main lyrics – the track is given a greater sense of meaning. As for the use of the lyrics ‘seaside lover,’ well that’s just genius!
Track 4: A Million Years Ago
Concluding Ffion’s debut EP, ‘A Million Years Ago’ is a completely stripped back acoustic track. In some ways, it feels a bit strange, detached even, from the music that has come before it. Why end the EP on a sound which is unlike anything else on it? However, for that alone, it makes the perfect final track as it is the only atmosphere that hasn’t been showcased.
Like the other tracks, the acoustic guitar plays a key role – especially as it is the only instrument in the track – and as it turns out, it’s the perfect choice for this final track. Spanish influenced from the outset, you feel like you’re in a Flamenco bar watching an impassioned performance. In contrast, the subtle vibrato within Ffion’s story-filled vocal draws you in like none of the other tracks have. In places it’s spine tingling, in others it’s moving, but at all places, it’s beautiful.
Ffion Rebecca’s debut EP ‘Love Away from Home’ is avaliable to purchase on iTunes now and her next release ‘Devil’ is out the end of the month. In the meantime, keep up to date with her musical developments by clicking here.