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Fathom - Single Review: Wink of the Lighthouse

23 Feb 2023 // A review by Kev Rowland

In my wonderfully formed Kev’s Top Tens for 2022 we can see nestling at #5 in the albums slot The World To Breathe by Nancy Howie, otherwise known as Fathom. Nancy is a piano tuner by trade and when she had time on her hands due to Covid she decided to make some instruments for herself which were then used to record the debut, and now she is back with a taster for the next one. A true multi-instrumentalist, Nancy is also a wonderful singer with a knack for coming up with arrangements which are both complex yet feel simplistic, packed full of hooks, which make her songs fresh and inviting.

Her latest number Wink of the Lighthouse is pop with some folk elements, and it is incredible to think that this wall of sound was created by just one person, as while it may start with just some simple repeated chords on a piano it soon expands. There is a lot of space within the arrangement which allows all the individual instruments to shine while never taking away from the vocals and beautiful harmonies.

This is a perfect Summer song, built for the radio, and unless someone had read a review they would never realise it was just one person using instruments she had built herself. That element might be what gets people trying her music for the first time, but they will soon forget that and instead fall in love with her wonderful feel for sound. Not only is she releasing her second album, Modern Reflections, in 2023 but  as the recipient of the 2023 Daphne Gretta Mary Stevens Community Music Scholarship, she has been commissioned to write a suite of chamber music to be played on her DIY musical instruments. Those will both be well worth hearing but until then I will keep playing this, and you should as well.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Fathom

Fathom is the brainchild of Nancy Howie, singer-songwriter, musician and maker. Hailing from Auckland by way of a nomadic nautical childhood, her latest project is a sprawling bedroom-folk experiment featuring DIY instruments and home-recorded music which tests the limits of lockdown-borne creativity.

Nancy has written and performed with her folk trio Tweed for almost a decade, playing in Auckland Folk Festival, on Radio New Zealand’s NZ Live programme, and for theatrical presentations in which they were commissioned to write the music. However, NZ’s first COVID lockdown forced the band to take a break from performance. Stranded at home, Nancy discovered a passion for inventing and building experimental instruments, beginning with a fencepost-based creation resembling a cello, and expanding to balloon-saxophones, unusual percussion instruments, and an improvised hurdy gurdy.

Her upcoming release The World to Breathe is the end result of a year of DIY instrument building combined with a collection of songs which explore themes of anxiety, self-discovery and unfamiliarity of life under COVID-19. The album was recorded at home during the lockdown, and features instruments handmade in her basement. Her music incorporates influences of ‘70s folk-rock, jazz, and indie, but the sound of homemade instrumentation is uniquely her own.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Fathom

Releases

The World to Breathe
Year: 2022
Type: Album

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