An outstanding debut album from an incredible talent...

After being crowned BBC’s Sound of 2020, Arlo Parks has returned with her debut album proving she can be folk’s finest star in any year. ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ shows steady growth from Arlo’s previous EP’s, whilst still remaining authentic to her sound. Melodically, the album feels as though it may have been better suited to a summer or springtime release but the tracks offer a homely, warm feeling to guide us through the winter.

The first track shares the album’s title and foreshadows the easy listening of the rest of the project. Beginning with a short soliloquy-like speech, we hear Arlo explore romance, adolescence and emotion through a pleasing, descriptive spoken word.

In the third single, we hear Arlo stray slightly from her usual alternative sound into a more pop- like melody. Although different, 'Too Good' is a personal favourite, showing an adaptability which is always welcomed. The hook is aided by upbeat drums, ascending keys and a happy bass and the slight sonic change in tune inserts a joyful bounce to the album that may have been unexpected.

Similarly, ‘Bluish’ gives us another genre-bending single as Arlo expresses the importance of boundaries whilst displaying a lack of fear toward musical risks – and most importantly, offering an enjoyable listen.

‘Hope’ is well-fitting to the current collective displeasure being experienced at the hands of a global pandemic as Arlo tells stories of trying to find the pleasure in life again. With a chorus reminding us throughout that we’re “not alone”, the empathetic record is both needed and appreciated for the forlorn in a period where isolation is at an all time high.

Despite releasing several singles including ‘Hurt’, ‘Caroline’ and ‘Black Dog’ prior, there is still plenty of room for surprises. A balance between sombre and optimistic, we are never left too down, nor too idealistic for too long as the album mirrors the wavering nature of life.

Reflective, intuitive and introspective, ‘Collapsed In Sunbeams’ is an immensely gripping debut. With no features, Arlo holds her own across all 12 singles and sets the bar high for those who follow.

8/10

Dig This? Dig Deeper: Ego Ella May, Loyle Carner, Joy Crookes

Words: Tochi Imo

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