Album: Gabi Garbutt & The Illuminations Light Up In ‘The Discredited Language of Angels’

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Let’s talk about love. Gabi Garbutt & The Illuminations release their debut album, The Discredited Language of Angels.

Corbynista Gabi Garbutt has been releasing singles over the last year from The Fool, to Lady Matador. She recently finished recording her debut album at Edwyn Collins studio in the Scottish Highlands, where producer Sean Read, keyboardist and guitarist of Dexys’ Midnight Runners, added the final touches. Leading to a full-on support tour with Edwyn Collins himself, making a perfect match for Gabi’s romantic story-telling style, as she brings the characters to life, in this mix of short vignettes. 

The Discredited Language of Angels brings us a joyous blend of new roots, northern soul and 50’s rock’n’roll, with a pop charm and a saxophone lilt, that lends a hint of Dexys’ revelry. With six band members they create an explosion of sound that is almost orchestral, this musical melange of ideas is stirring and glowing, while shot through with raw poetry and lyricism.

The album covers an array of life’s characters and is reminiscent of Goat Girl in their portrayal of the ‘lunatics, lovers, liars and dreamers.’ Garbutt searches for a way through human suffering, in her poetic style offering meditations on wells of human emotion. She shares a passionate realism, while dealing with human experience, in a similar way to IDLES, this is her mission statement in her own act of joy, as defiance. 

Tracks take on a hue of northern soul in The Fool, immediately uplifting, with hammond organ and saxophone, celebrating, ‘the passionate believer.’ The crazy, unconventional one and the importance of the outsider who clears the way for new thinking. While Lady Matador is more dynamic and punchy, a fast up-tempo take on the sunnier side of mania, ‘sick and starry eyes riding on a high’, ‘lost in paradise, happens all the time…’, as ecstatic creativity pulses through your veins until ‘We get so low.’

A rock’n’roll element is introduced in This Higher Place, recalls Dexys perhaps the most, lights glisten through as she reminds us lyrically of The Power of Love by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, in her own nod to this transcendental state. Continuing the rock’n’roll vibe, Heat of the Machine moves into a more 50s feel, illustrated images emerge of the ‘red glow from the stereo’ immediately conjuring-up an old-style radio or gramophone, with a fantastic Puccini Sisters doo whop style ending. 

In Reason to Believe, there is more of a neo-folk hue with violin, clinky piano, shot through with punk poetry, this is an ode to belief, ‘I really believe it, cause I really believe in my soul, holding on tight,’ a Deepak Chopra moment, conjuring a sense of the soul looking out onto life. While Notes from the Undergrowth take us down-stream, ‘I’ll bring the tangled vines to mend your fragile mind and as the rose buds appear the thorns are nothing to fear, because here I pulled you from the ground.’  Demonstrates her poetic virtuoso, as she paints a tapestry of words, as oils of influences from painter William Blake stain the canvas, you get the feeling she tugs at life, in a passionate healing plea to bring someone back, in a cry for resurrection.

Equally moving, Armed with Love’, is a ballad ‘love and great hope,’  lead you through the struggles in life, inspired by a friend: “It’s about someone close to me who had some terrible stuff happen to her, and how amazed I was by how she dealt with it. It’s about the magic of the human spirit and how you should never lose hope, no matter how bad things look.” Illustrating her mission to find beauty in turbulent times, “The world is pretty shit right now. I like to write about the importance of human connection amongst all of this.  Finding beauty and focusing on what’s meaningful as an act of defiance against the brutality of modern life.”

This is Gabi Garbutt and The Illuminations front-room party, she clings to her humanity, through politically rubbish times and wins over with this treasure-trove of ideas, filled with ‘great love and great hope,’ while promoting values of love and kindness.  An incendiary artist in her own right, this is Garbutt’s manifesto, as she fights for human connection, love and triumph through union with others.  There are moments of storytelling, reminiscent of Cerys Matthews from Catatonia and vocals that evoke moments of Kirsty McColl, with the dramatic depictions of Kate Bush

Sam Chamberlaine

Sam Chamberlaine