CD review: Dragonfly Tattoo perfect art of love and murder

Vicky Whelan of Dragonfly Tattoo.
Vicky Whelan of Dragonfly Tattoo.

Dragonfly Tattoo: Songs of Love and Murder (EP).

Few people hit the bull’s eye first time round but this stunning debut EP by local semi-acoustic outfit Dragonfly Tattoo already marks them out as a cut above.

Led by singer-songwriter Vicky Whelan (vocals/piano) and featuring, in the studio at least, Alan Lowles (upright bass), Semay Wu (cello), Paul Burgess (drums) and Nigel Stoner (guitar/bass) who is also the producer, this newish band smoulder with serious intent.

Artistically, the darkest moments are the best.

The first three stark, semi-classical, piano-led tracks - Hollow Men, Lilith and Winterface - show influences of both PJ Harvey and Nick Cave , just a little less disturbing and little more jazzy.

The final two tracks - Two Wrongs and When Love Feels Like Murder - emphasise the band’s jazzier traits further to a more commercial end.

Both tracks would be perfect for late night cabaret in a smoky club, all sensuous brushes and burbling keyboards, the band purring beautifully like an alley cat.

All this instrumental sophistication would mean nothing without the core of the music - and that belongs to Vicky Whelan.

Her voice may not be quite as distinctive as messrs Harvey or Cave but it suits her songs perfectly.

Combining sensuality with intelligence, they sound like the work of someone who’s seen the world but still retains a sense of playfulness. Fragile but somehow strong, Whelan’s is a lusciously dark world but far from black and white.

Dragonfly Tattoo play Harrogate Theatre on Saturday, April 20.

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