“I don’t care this is me, I’m free, and I’m back” sings Reevah vocalist and main songwriter Aoife Boyle in a quiet, brooding voice on “ystm”, the opening track on the group’s latest EP Begin, Again. It’s a fitting title for a project that sees the Derry ensemble explore new sonic territories and styles of songwriting that has their self professed “ever-growing” musical direction move toward a fresh new soundscape. “You Said Tell Me” (abbreviated as “ystm”) begins with Boyle’s gentle and measured voice cutting through light, wispy synth pads, wondering “How can it feel like this?” before making way for dark sub basses and atmospheric beats after the first verse. What’s even more impressive than the production is that these songs were kept as “DIY” as possible, with Aoife Boyle and drummer Brian Doherty recording, producing and mixing most of the EP by themselves which was, in the band’s own words, “an important stepping stone in the growth and progression of Reevah”.
Also important is the diversity of the songwriting and instrumentation on this EP. Whilst “ystm” offers a burst of new textures to show in their discography, tracks like the gorgeous “Wildflower” provide us with a slightly more familiar Reevah flavour, with tasteful keys played by Stephen McCool and Laura McFadden’s organic, sweeping cello slowly floating by throughout the track, wrapping around Aoife’s tender and honest lyrics of love and longing which ring through the listener’s head long after the music has stopped, “So sleep peacefully tonight / Because loving you was easy / But letting go was harder than I know, than I’ll ever know”.
“Daydreamer”, the first single released from the project, is another kind of song still; the track combines the classic indie-pop elements of piano, drums and guitars and pairs them with Boyle’s distinctive singing style that knows just how to deliver the words which even on their own are practically poetry, “Feelings of loss / But I have nothing to lose / This blank paper freedom / Fired up or recluse, fired up or recluse”. Perhaps most of Reevah’s appeal lies in the sincerity and originality of the front-woman’s songs, unfolding like stories that have clear intent and meaning behind them.
Closing us out is “Nights Alt”, a revisitation of the song “Nights” that Reevah released four years prior, now back in a much different outfit. Whilst the original was folky, soft and almost delicate, the new version that bookends this EP is fuelled by a faster tempo, electric guitars and electronic beats, the chorus itself backed with different chords that bring out a new meaning to the lyrical side, “Are you lost in the night? Yeah I’ve been here before”. In quite a literal sense, yes she has – but things have changed since, and now it sounds like both Aoife Boyle and the song itself have grown and matured over the years. It’s a perfect example of Reevah’s consistent journey of change and the eclecticism and meaning behind Begin, Again as a whole, where even amongst the diversity of the tracks, there’s a familiar and steady thread of continuity running throughout.
It’s one thing to have a songwriting talent (like Aoife Boyle so clearly does), but another thing to fuse this so effortlessly with a unique visual image and a true, genuine love for music, where the meanings of the songs are just as wholehearted as the instrumentation itself. Never throughout Begin, Again does a track feel re-hashed or uninspired; each song has its own story to tell and its own musical palette to offer the listener. Perhaps it’s a result of the EP being conceived amongst the beautiful scenery at the location of The Beekeepers studio in the Burren, Co. Clare, or more likely, it’s down to the talent and keen musical ear of the artist who wrote it. What’s clear is that the journey and progression of the project known as Reevah is always growing and never stagnating – one can only imagine the places they’ll go to next.